The Kitchen is a Well-Baked Crime Drama

author img
BY August 15, 2019

The current Rotten Tomato score for The Kitchen (Based on a Vertigo comic), the crime drama featuring Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, and Elisabeth Moss, is a painful 20%. But here’s the problem, there are quite a few reviews with comments like this:

The Kitchen is a female empowerment movie disguised as a mob movie. With a message as dumb as “women can kill people too,” this will make you want to leave the gun, leave the cannoli and leave the theater.

So, here’s the problem with this review. It’s blatantly sexist. And the message isn’t “a woman can kill people too.” No reviewer could really be that dumb. The message is to do everything you can to get ahead. And yes, women can do that too. Also revealed in this comment is that the reviewer wants his manly mob movies, and references The Godfather as if to gain credibly. But he also doesn’t understand The Godfather if his assessment is that mob movies are about killing people. Godfather is a movie about protecting your family, the mafia aspects of it derive from a time when many Italian-Americans saw little choice other than to work with the mafia to stay safe. He fails to recognize the true meaning in either of these movies. Violence is a byproduct of circumstance, not a driving force for action. If you can comprehend that, you’ll enjoy the movie—like most of the people who were in my sold-out theater.

The Women Belong in The Kitchen

They won’t hit you with a spatula…but they will put a hit out on you. (Warner Bros.)

First, the three leads are great. Elisabeth Moss has played a few serious roles. She won an Emmy for The Handmaid’s Tale, which is no comedy. Melissa McCarthy mostly does comedies, but she’s showed her serious side a few times, such as her Oscar-nominated role in Can You Ever Forgive Me. Both of those actresses have already proven what they can do. However, it’s Tiffany Haddish who had the most to gain here. In most of her roles, she’s a loud and energetic party girl. She’s played low key too, see her turn in Night School, but she hasn’t shined through as a serious actress yet. Her role in The Kitchen changes that. She is good, commanding, and sometimes a bit frightening. The only problem is that she is clearly excited about this role, and it once or twice it makes her performance feel forced, but not so much that it doesn’t show that she has a promising future in drama.

A New York Minute of Hell

The Kitchen goes fast. It has a short one hour and forty-minute runtime. Honestly, it could have used about 20 more minutes, but the pace helped it too. It’s chaotic and frantic, and it makes everything feel more unpredictable and dangerous. Most crime dramas take their time and show how the mobsters slowly build their empire. These women don’t have time. Their husbands are in jail for three years, and they want to establish their control before they get out. They waste no time moving in on the new leaders of the Irish mob, and do so swiftly, the war is over before the men even realize it’s begun. And then they just keep running forward, building faster and faster, and more and more brutal as they go along. The film matches the pace of the comics in this way. Even though the audience wants more time with the characters, they don’t have it to spare.

Speaking of crazy fast, director Andrea Berloff shot The Kitchen in just 38 days!

Dohmnall Gleeson sets The Kitchen on fire


Just waiting patiently in the background to kill someone. Carry on. (Warner Bros.)

The only guy worth mentioning in The Kitchen is Gleeson. Gleeson plays the three women’s enforcer. He’s a damaged Vietnam veteran who’s become a bit of a sociopath. It just happens that he’s in love with Elisabeth Moss’s character—if it weren’t for that, this character would be their worst nightmare. Gleeson plays this role quiet, which makes it that much more menacing. This element combines two characters from the comics into a brand new one.

Berloff Cooks With Style

One thing clear in The Kitchen is that Andrea Berloff loves 70’s films. From the opening credits to the cinematography and wardrobes and dialogue. It makes the movie a lot of fun. It also feels right. It’s kind of annoying when directors reference cinematic periods when it doesn’t fit the movie. Sure, Quentin Tarantino has some great films, but half of his 70’s references are out of place with the stories he tells. The Kitchen doesn’t have that problem.

Is it a perfect movie? No. But it’s fun and McCarthy, Haddish, and Moss are great to watch.

 

Grade: The fancy kind of mac and cheese.

Movies

Roman Colombo finished his MFA in 2010 and now teaches writing and graphic novel literature at various Philadelphia colleges. His first novel, Trading Saints for Sinners, was published in 2014. He's currently working on his next novel and hoping to find an agent soon.

Leave a comment

Related

Movies
The Complicated History of Captain Marvel and Shazam Explained

Captain Marvel and Shazam have a long, complicated history. So, it’s appropriate that they both hit the big screens in the same year.

BY Joshua M. Patton May 2, 2019
Movies
Jamie Foxx to Be Pixar’s First Black Lead in ‘Soul’

Director Pete Docter announced the voice cast for his next film, Pixar’s feature Soul, at D23 last weekend. As Pixar movies don’t exactly have a track record of being terrible, every new film is cause for excitement. But this film has some special details. Here’s everything we know. What It’s About Jamie Foxx voices middle […]

BY Salomé Gonstad August 27, 2019
Movies
Stephen King’s ‘The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon’ Becoming Movie

Adaptations of Stephen King’s novels have always been hit or miss. There have been highs (like The Shining or It) and there have been some very dark lows (generally any show after the first season*). So news of another adaptation–this time, 1999’s The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, brings feelings of both anticipation and dread. […]

BY Salomé Gonstad August 23, 2019
Fortnite Chapter 2 Trailer Intros New Map

Quite possibly the biggest game around right now, Fortnite is looking to keep players interested and invested with some major changes. If you didn’t catch the Fortnite chapter 2 trailer, here’s everything you need to know about the new map and things Epic Games is introducing. Fortnite Chapter 2 Trailer Shows Off New Digs There […]

BY Taylor Bauer October 15, 2019
Fortnite Season 11 Darkness Sends Fans into Uproar

Ahead of Fortnite’s newest season, which is the game’s 11th if you’re keeping score at home, Epic Games raised the stakes. Rather than hype players up with a crazy loot drop, or new in-game features, the Fortnite map we all know and love disappeared. Literally, as there is currently no map to play Fortnite on. […]

BY Taylor Bauer October 14, 2019
Google Stadia Broadband Caps Cause Major Concern

There are a lot of changes coming to the video game industry. For starters, the major home console makers are setting the stage for a new generation. We’re expected to see the new PS5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Scarlett (name pending) next year for the holidays. Plus, the Switch Lite is now on shelves, providing a […]

BY Taylor Bauer October 14, 2019
Fortnite Profits Drop Steeply – Is the Fad Waning?

Flash back to the 2018 holiday season. Fortnite, a free to play multiplayer titan, seemed unstoppable. Like anything in pop culture, however, nothing lasts at its peak forever. Recent news that Fortnite profits drop steeply when you look at 2019 Q2 trends points to some positives and negatives for Epic Games moving forward. Why did […]

BY Taylor Bauer October 10, 2019

Trending

Kevin Feige Promoted to Chief Creative Officer at Marvel Studios, Overseeing, Well, Everything

That a seismic shake-up was underway at Marvel was apparent. The Sony and Disney standoff over Spider-Man, rumors that Marvel Studios would take over Marvel Television, and an ambitious MCU Phase 4 line-up. However, what that shake-up was remained a mystery until now. Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, was promoted to Chief Creative Officer, […]

BY Joshua M. Patton October 15, 2019
Fortnite Chapter 2 Trailer Intros New Map

Quite possibly the biggest game around right now, Fortnite is looking to keep players interested and invested with some major changes. If you didn’t catch the Fortnite chapter 2 trailer, here’s everything you need to know about the new map and things Epic Games is introducing. Fortnite Chapter 2 Trailer Shows Off New Digs There […]

BY Taylor Bauer October 15, 2019
Doctor Doom #1 Shows He Loves Latveria More than Doom

Doctor Victor Von Doom, the ruler of the fictional country Latveria, might have the biggest ego in comics. It’s a toss-up between him and Lex Luthor, really. And as one of the biggest villains in Marvel Comics, Doom has caused mayhem and death all over the universe. So, how is it possible that he not […]

BY Roman Colombo October 15, 2019
Zoe Kravitz Will Be The Batman’s Catwoman

After a series of screen tests with various actresses, it is now official. Zoe Kravitz will play Catwoman, opposite Robert Pattinson, in Matt Reeves’s The Batman. Here are the details we know so far about her role, including, perhaps, the most surprising part of her casting. What Role Will Catwoman Play in the Upcoming Movie? […]

BY Salomé Gonstad October 15, 2019