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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » The Kitchen (Blu-ray)
The Kitchen (Blu-ray)
Warner Bros. // R // November 5, 2019 // Region A
List Price: $35.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ryan Keefer | posted December 17, 2019 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

On the surface, if you put together a movie with two comedic actresses in Melissa McCarthy and Tiffany Haddish, pair them to a third critically acclaimed actress (Elisabeth Moss), you're going to expect some sort of yuks to come from it, right? I'm guessing a few people did, which was why The Kitchen was a disappointment. Also, the fact that this appears to have come out the same approximate movie window as the superior Hustlers (which I also have seen recently) did them no favors either.

Nevertheless, Andrea Berloff (Straight Outta Compton) adapted the comic books series into a screenplay that she also directed. McCarthy (The Heat), Haddish (Keanu) and Moss (Light of My Life) play Kathy, Ruby and Claire, respectively. The women are thrust into the roles of figures in the Irish mob in 1978 Hell's Kitchen following the arrest and imprisonment of their husbands by the FBI. They find out that the life is more than they bargained for in a hurry.

It's a chicken or the egg discussion, but having Haddish and McCarthy in two-thirds of these roles almost spoils the film for the viewer and for themselves. You expect jokes to fly in at some point when you realize they go from Mafia wifes to Mafia members, but…they never do. That part is bad. The part that's good? Their performances, especially McCarthy's, are pretty good. Each one has their own obstacles to clear to get to where they are, but Kathy's appear to be the highest. She's been trying to keep the business away from the kids and out of her house, but it always seems to come in, no matter what. And it's a role of depth and range that McCarthy has been able to deliver more and more of lately to great affect.

On a lesser scale, Moss' performance is just as good. Claire finds a connection with Gabriel (Domnhall Gleeson, Frank) im that both are lonely and kind of broken souls, and seeing them interact with Claire's friends in different ways is fascinating to watch. Gleeson is accommodating and worth watching in The Kitchen, as are Bill Camp and Margo Martindale, who play in different roles within the mob family that you want to see more of. But you understand why the time had to be ceded.

Some of the moments are a bit of a stretch given what was laid out beforehand; Haddish's quiet rise within the family being chief among them, but I think if there was some sort of marketing that showed that this would be a movie where Melissa McCarthy and Tiffany Haddish were not in it to be Melissa McCarthy and Tiffany Haddish, folks would have probably allowed some of the leaps in logic to go by them, or even gone to see the movie to begin with. The Kitchen is a little slow to get out of the blocks but once it gets going, it does allow you to go along for the ride that is decent.

The Blu-ray
The Video:

The Blu-ray of The Kitchen arrives on Blu-ray with deep black levels and excellent contrast presented during darker moments. Image detail on walls and clothing is present and effective, and colors look natural during the film. The film does not tend to match up with the era visually, in the sense of not having a gritty look despite set design attempts to the contrary, but Warner gives the source material an impressive presentation.

The Sound:

The soundtrack includes a few songs familiar to viewers, but the score is also decent. The film provides enough action early on to give you a better than expected level of immersion while viewing, and in quieter moments the dialogue and environmental effects are clear and sound good in the front of the soundstage. Subwoofer activity was more than I expected but it was welcome to the listening experience, and overall it was a pleasant movie to listen to.

Extras:

Unfortunately there isn't too much here; "Running Hell's Kitchen" (9:01) looks at the source material and the thoughts on same by the cast and crew, and the cast on one another and the director, and the hair, cars and clothes. "Taking Over the Neighborhood" (5:22) examined the location and production design for the feature, and a deleted scene (1:25) that doesn't add much to things.

Final Thoughts:

Looking strictly at the performances of the cast in The Kitchen rather than what is a premise that takes longer to unfold than is necessary, there are the underpinnings of something that could have been better than it was. So in looking at it through that lens I can see why it was disappointing, as the lack of focus hurt what are decent second and third acts. Technically the disc is pretty darn good but the bonus material is scarce. If you're up for a change of pace from some comediennes you know and like, this is for you, but if you're looking for entertaining productions, I think each of the stars has done better elsewhere.

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