Movie Review: 'The Hundred-Foot Journey'

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Films that mix food and romance have become a staple of recent movie-making. The Hundred-Foot Journey, starring Helen Mirren, is the latest example.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Food and romance. That's the recipe in the new film "The Hundred-Foot Journey." Here's Kenneth Turan's review.

KENNETH TURAN: "The Hundred-Foot Journey" is a sweet and unapologetic fairy tale for adults. Its story of cuisines and cultures and conflict has been polished to the highest possible sheen. Journey stars canny veterans Helen Mirren and Om Puri, who play competing restaurateurs named Madame Mallory and Papa Kadam. Their establishments create such mouth-watering dishes, that seeing this film on an empty stomach is not recommended. Tragedy causes the Kadam family to relocate from India to France. They end up in a tiny town where Madame Mallory, proud proprietor of a restaurant with a Michelin star, cracks the whip at her staff.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY")

HELEN MIRREN: (As Madame Mallory) In this restaurant, the cuisine is not an old, tired marriage. It is a passionate affair of the heart.

TURAN: Despite the intimidating presence of Madame Mallory, Papa Kadam opens an Indian restaurant just 100 feet from her door. Then the focus shifts to Hassan, Papa Kadam's oldest son and an individual with exceptional culinary gifts. Soon enough his father and Madame Mallory are fighting about Hassan's future and the merits of their respective national cuisines.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY)

OM PURI: (As Papa Kadam) You seduce his mind with your awful, tasteless, empty sauces - with your pitiful little squashed bits of garlic.

MIRREN: (As Madame Mallory) That is called subtlety of flavor.

PURI: (As Papa Kadam) It's called meanness of spirit. If you have a spice, use it. Don't sprinkle it, spoon it in.

TURAN: It would be foolish to pretend the result of all these labors is not effective entertainment. But enjoyable as "Hundered-Foot Journey" can be, it's still possible to wish that its gloss was not quite so shiny, that everything about it was not so exactly on the nose, to wish that the film had more of the messy juices of life flowing through its veins.

GREENE: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and also for the Los Angeles Times. You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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