Rated: PG for mild language, and mild violence.
Genre: Drama Romance Comedy
Directed By: Scott Hicks
Running Time: 1:40
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
Review Date: 2/20/08
Special Features:
Unwrapped: Host Marc Summers visits the set and talks to the films stars for an episode of his Food Network Series.


You have to credit Aaron Eckhart for taking what could have been a truly forgettable and cliche character and turning him into a love interest we can actually admire. I absolutely loved his role in "No Reservations" as a wonderful antithesis to Jones' snotty chef. He's charismatic, funny, and he really does add the extra energy this movie needed from the get go. Eckhart proves that even in the most limp material, he can shine. As for Abigail Breslin, she's surprisingly downplayed and really turns into a sympathetic child character who is not reduced to trite one-liners and goofy saccharine dialogue. She's sweet and sad, and really adds something to the movie.

Watching “No Reservations” was a lot like watching “Must Love Dogs.” They’re sugary harmless fodder, but still I found myself offended and was convinced that though I had no previous knowledge of it, the original source material must definitely be better; “Must Love Dogs” being an adaptation, while this is a remake of an Italian comedy called “Bella Martha.” The writing is so vain because it expects us to believe that these two gorgeous people couldn’t possibly hook up, not to mention we all know where it’s going to go. Just the same, its formulaic nonsense intended for the Valentine crowd to watch two gorgeous folks get together with the belief that they have trouble holding on to a mate. Like “Must Love Dogs,” I ask: Are we really supposed to believe good looking people like Catherine Zeta Jones and Aaron Eckhart can’t find mates? Hardly. Perhaps I’m being too hard on it, because actually the film isn’t bad.

It’s not as bad as “Must Love Dogs” either, it’s just I’m tired of watching movies about a ne’er do well career obsessed woman with goals suddenly realize her life is empty until she happens upon a precocious little boy or girl who brings something to their life they couldn’t have otherwise had without them. It’s this exact string of pro-life logic that peppers comedies today, and it’s insulting to believe that someone can’t be fulfilled or whole without children.  

Not to mention this plot is something we’ve seen a thousand times over recycled from television movies and the like, all of which treads the same plot devices and sub-plots with zero effort. The interplay between Jones and Eckhart is boring, the character played by Breslin is cliché, and the inevitable resolution is predictable and cornball, and yet why is it that this attracts audiences? I can’t understand it. I’ve seen this movie twenty times in the last five years, and it was a struggle seeing it yet again. Will Kate learn to be a good foster parent? Will this doe eyed child bring something into her life? Will Kate fall for the rival chef? Is Patricia Clarkson losing her mind for co-starring? We all know it’s a yes to the fourth power. Again, it’s all relatively harmless fluff but one that just doesn’t demand anything except your attention while it replays the same devices over and over again. It takes the best tries at pulling our heartstrings, but Breslin as good an actress as she is, just doesn’t convince me to care too much. Everything about this movie gave me a cavity and not a pleasant one. Even the title makes me want to punch a kitten. My best advice would be to watch the original which I’m sure is much more emotional and original. This American remake is much too clunky and rehashed to enjoy.

In spite of the great performances from Eckhart, and Breslin, "No Reservations" pulls its cast down into a sappy, cliche, retreaded, and boring romance comedy that really manages to pay no respect to its audiences intelligence.



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