Movie Review: The Menu

Writers Seth Reiss (LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS) and Will Tracy (LAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER) filet and skewer foodie culture in a wickedly delicious take down of all those people who insist on posting photos of their food or who love telling you how they much they enjoyed the seawater foam at some overpriced, über-pretentious restaurant. Co-produced by former friends and creative collaborators Adam McKay and Will Farrell, THE MENU is sure to bring a smile to your face as you watch a group of privileged diners get their just desserts.

A small group of gastronomes boards a boat to take them to a small, seaside island that’s home to Hawthorne, an exclusive restaurant owned and operated by celebrity chef Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes, THE KING’S MAN; THE DIG). The patrons include food critic Lillian Bloom (Janet McTeer, ME BEFORE YOU) and her editor, Ted (Paul Adelstein, TV’s PRIVATE PRACTICE); frequent Hawthorne patrons Richard Liebbrandt (Reed Birney, MASS; THE FORTY-YEAR OLD VERSION) and his wife, Anne (Judith Light, TICK, TICK… BOOM!; TV’s TRANSPARENT and UGLY BETTY); faded B-movie star George Diaz (John Leguizamo, JOHN WICK; CHAPTER 2; CHEF) and his assistant, Felicity (Aimee Carrero); investment banker bros, Bryce (Rob Yang), Dave (Mark St. Cyr) and Soren (Arturo Castro, WEIRD: THE AL YANKOVIC STORY); and foodie fanboy, Tyler (Nicolas Hoult, THE FAVOURITE; THE CURRENT WAR) and his date for the evening, Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy, LAST NIGHT IN SOHO; TV’s THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT). Chef Slowik has chosen a menu for the evening specifically tailored to these guests. Margot, however, was not expected to be there and that poses a problem for him.

THE MENU is a subversive romp. While each course is prepared to perfection by Chef’s highly effective kitchen staff, it’s Slowik’s explanation of each dish that is pure gold in its pretense. The second course, and how the diners react to it, is just too funny. But even Slowik’s snootiness pales in comparison to his sommelier (played by Peter Grosz, THE COLBERT REPORT), who informs Tyler and Margot about the provenance of the wines he’s pouring for them at each course. Listen carefully to him! Hawthorne’s maître d’, Elsa (Hong Chau, DOWNSIZING), is also wonderful and once you hear her say “tortilla”, you’ll never be able to hear it again without cracking a smile.

As much as I enjoyed THE MENU, I can’t see it playing well in Peoria. This is definitely a movie for the “coastal elites” but, if it’s any consolation for the mainstream, these people do get their comeuppance here.

THE MENU opens in Hong Kong on December 1st. For Chef Slowik, revenge is a dish best served hot. Bon appetit!

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