Note: This is a spoiler-free The Kitchen movie review
There’s a movie coming out this weekend that is set in Hell’s Kitchen. Unfortunately, the movie itself leaves you feeling trapped there.
The Kitchen is a rushed attempt at crime drama that wastes the opportunity to showcase three quality actors.
Right from the start, The Kitchen is too fast-paced for its own good. The story is minimal, and the rise to the top for the queenpins is almost instantaneous. As a result, there are attempted character arcs but they all miss the mark.
There’s also a big twist toward the end, but it has a small reveal and doesn’t land because there’s no real development elsewhere. Everything is right in front of you and taken at face value with no time to react.
Fittingly, the pacing issue displays itself right up to the end, and most prominently in the final scene. A rivalry between Kathy (Melissa McCarthy) and Ruby (Tiffany Haddish) builds and has the audience hoping for a big payoff. Instead, the scene develops poorly, ends abruptly, and leaves the audience with the feeling of “wait that’s it?”
Undercooked Character Development
The biggest crime in The Kitchen is this. They have three quality, well-liked actors to work with and none of them are set up to shine.
Melissa McCarthy is the focal point of the movie and the driving character for what story there is. It’s an interesting choice considering Elizabeth Moss is in the movie, but McCarthy is coming off critical acclaim for her performance in Can You Ever Forgive Me? and does the best she can in this performance.
Kathy is the leader of the band. She is the one doing this work for her family and community, and the most relatable character on screen.
Once pigeon-holed as a slapstick physical comic, McCarthy deserves credit for her continued transition into dramatic roles.
Elizabeth Moss is wholly wasted as abused-wife-turned-revenge-seeking-hitwoman Claire Walsh. Claire features less prominently than Kathy and Ruby, and when she is on the screen her purpose is over-the-top violence that makes the audience squirm. Of the three characters, she does show the greatest arc, which is a testament to Moss’ acting ability as much as anything. Developing this character more is an easy way to make The Kitchen a more enjoyable watch.
Ruby, on the other hand, turns in the middle of the movie out of nowhere, again thanks to pacing issues. Her shift coincides with being fed up by her mother-in-law (Margo Martindale), whose extent of antagonism is just cursing a lot for no good reason. I guess Ruby becomes the enemy at that point, but she is still likable so really you’re left without an opposing force.
The entire character is written and developed poorly. Again through no fault of Haddish’s. She is just a microcosm of the overarching issues the movie has.
Should I Go See The Kitchen?
In a word — Nope.
The three main actresses have plenty of entertaining and high-quality performances elsewhere. Do yourself a favor and go watch Man Men, Handmaids Tale, Saturday Night Live, or Girls Trip instead.
(Featured Image courtesy of EPK)