No Reservations


You KNEW I'd have trouble accepting this remake, because I love the original German film, "Mostly Martha" so much.

Well, let's talk about it. First of all, if any of you have friends or family that would be traumatized by the death of a young mother (off-screen, you don't see it!), do yourself a favor and avoid it. That element is unchanged from the original German film.

As a matter of fact, the first twenty minutes of "No Reservations" is, shot for shot and word for word, identical to its original. After things get rolling though, the broader humor and more obvious plot devices of the American version kick in, to the delight of the audience with whom I attended.

Catherine Zeta Jones ("Intolerable Cruelty" and "Chicago") plays Kate, a chef in a high-class New York restaurant that is owned by Patricia Clarkson ("Station Agent" and "Pieces of April"). Kate's unmarried sister and her niece are enroute to visit her in New York, when they are in an automobile crash and her sister is killed. This means that Kate now has custody of the daughter, played by Abigail Breslin ("Little Miss Sunshine" and "Raising Helen").

The little girl just wants to go home, which is clearly impossible. Kate takes some time off to spend with her, and the restaurant owner hires Nick, played by Aaron Eckhart ("Thank You For Smoking" and "Erin Brockovich"), to fill in for her.

Obviously this raises the hackles of our chef, who, like most master chefs, is clearly the prima donna of that restaurant kitchen and has no intention of sharing her throne. Here is where the American version diverts from the German one: In the American version there is no quest to find the little girl's absent father.

One of my friends explains that we "imprint" with the first version of a book, play, movie, etc., and have a hard time accepting a substitute. I think that's what happened to me. Make up your own mind. If you haven't seen "Mostly Martha" by now, you probably never will, so no harm....