No Reservations (PG)

Comedy 105 July 27, 2007
By Robert Wilonsky
In this by-the-recipe remake of 2001’s German chocolate cake Mostly Martha, Catherine Zeta-Jones plays Kate, a top chef in New York City who rules her kitchen with a cast-iron fist. She wants to be alone, so, of course, her perfectly unencumbered existence is thrown into chaos with the death of her sister, who has willed to Kate custody of her perfectly precocious 9-year-old niece, Zoe, played by Abigail Breslin. At first, naturally, theirs is an uneasy relationship — relative stranger living with relative stranger, neither of whom wants the other around. Then Kate decides to start taking Zoe to the restaurant, where the chef discovers in her sacred space a new hire named Nick, played by Aaron Eckhart, whose tousled bangs hang so low, you’re amazed he can see what he’s cooking. The guy’s so sweet, it’s astounding he isn’t shot in soft focus. Nick won’t take Kate’s gig, despite their boss’s desires; he just wants everything else she has — her heart and the kid, too. The cynic would like to write this off as empty grown-up hooey, Baby Boom without an ounce of bang. But you can’t do it — the thing’s so charming and frothy and delightful and sentimental and beautifully shot and well-acted and sincere that it takes a good, long while before you start craving real nourishment. During this disheartening season of overheated air-conditioned diversions, that passes for artistic achievement.
Scott Hicks Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, Patricia Clarkson, Abigail Breslin, Jenny Wade, Lily Rabe, Eric Silver, Arija Bareikis, John McMartin, Celia Weston Carol Fuchs, Sandra Nettelbeck Sergio Aguero, Kerry Heysen Warner Bros. Pictures

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