30 January 2009

DVD: "No Reservations"

No Reservations
Directed by Scott Hicks
Screenplay by Carol Fuchs
Starring: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, Abigail Breslin and Patricia Clarkson
DVD Release Date: 12 February 2008
MPAA Rating: PG (For Some Sensuality and Language)
List Price: $19.96
Cinescope Personality Types: Vivacious Romantic

The Film
The trailer for No Reservations explained it clearly enough: Catherine Zeta-Jones's Kate is a New York chef who takes in her orphaned niece and has to work out working with Aaron Eckhart's Nick.  Naturally, the two clash at first and then later fall in love.  And the film delivered exactly what the trailer said it would.  There were no surprise plot twists, just these three characters coming together and going through the adjustments of living with one another.  Somehow, though, being a simple and obvious film doesn't make it unenjoyable.  In addition to Zeta-Jones and Eckhart, the cast includes Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) as the aforementioned orphaned niece, Zoe.  The three of them are charming and enjoyable to watch.  Even if the film is paint-by-numbers, at least the picture is pretty.

The DVD release is completely disappointing, as the only special feature is an episode of Food Network's "Unwrapped" hosted by Marc Summers.  There are no other features, no commentary tracks, not even the theatrical trailer!  The episode itself is somewhat enjoyable, though by its very nature it doesn't go particularly into the movie-making.  Rather, it focuses on the behind-the-scenes training the actors received to play cooks convincingly.  The episode doesn't have enough material to justify its twenty-two minute running time, so it repeats a lot of film footage and interview statements.  Even accepting Warner Bros.'s desire to have this DVD released two days before Valentine's Day, 2007, does not justify such a bare-bones release.  Not only did they not release any kind of special edition, but the Widescreen and Pan & Scan versions are on the same disc!

The Recommendation
The only major flaw with this film is that Kate never really seems to have anything to say about her now-deceased sister.  She breaks down and cries shortly after the car accident that kills her, but beyond that we never hear her say anything to anyone about her sibling.  Not to her therapist, her grieving niece or to Nick, the guy to whom she finally surrenders herself.  At no point do we ever get a sense of what her relationship to her sister was, other than to know that their dad came apart at the seams after their mother died when they were young.  The potential heart-to-heart moments abound, and yet there are none.  Whether they just didn't want to bog down the pretty picture with such things, or whether no one thought to even include such scenes is unclear, but their absence certainly cheats the film of any emotional weight.  Fans of Zeta-Jones or Eckhart will likely enjoy their performances, but otherwise No Reservations is strictly a rental.  In fact, this might even be one to just wait for a TV broadcast.

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