Date: June 16 2012
More soufflé than serious main course, this French farce is a battle of kitchen egos as two very different chefs have to work together to save their careers, their love lives and the reputation of fine dining in general.
Culinary legend Alexandre Lagarde (Jean Reno) has a reputation the size of the Eiffel Tower, working from his famous restaurant in Paris - a three-star Michelin-rated establishment where people come from all over the world to sample his famous dishes.
The problem for Lagarde is that the new restaurant owner Stanislaw Matter (Julien Boisselier) believes Lagarde's approach has had its day and that what the punters want is the experience of exciting molecular gastronomy - you know, steak and chips shaped like a knife and fork, served on an edible plate with banana consommé and fireworks.
To help save the day Lagarde ends up hiring down-on-his-luck chef Jacky Bonnot (Michaël Youn) who's been reduced to working as a handyman because of his uncompromising attitude in many a kitchen. Jacky and Lagarde must put aside their inflated personality defects in order to save the restaurant and keep Jacky's heavily pregnant wife Beatrice (Raphaëlle Agogué) happy. Along the way the two uber-chefs explore the wacky world of molecular gastronomy, even bringing a Spanish version of Heston Blumenthal (Santiago Segura) to Paris for some kitchen-shattering demonstrations.
Writer/director Daniel Cohen's recipe is to keep the frothy farce lively and short, icing over the many story contrivances and thin characterisations. This leaves the cast little opportunity to bring much depth to their work.
Singer and stand-up comedian Michael Youn is confident and colourful as the younger celebrity chef, but his one-flavour Jacky character quickly becomes highly irritating. The same goes for Boisselier's bad boss figure - a character so unrealistically small-minded that he undermines the story's credibility and requires the most pathetic plot fix in the final act to put right his wrongs. Reno tries valiantly to remain composed but he, too, ultimately succumbs to the shallow demands of the farcical atmosphere - including a completely unnecessary secondary love story.
Having said this, if you're prepared to take the whole experience like a couple of glasses of cheap champagne (enjoy the bubbles rather than the taste), there are some light laughs to be had.
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