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Natale da Chef

Movie review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Natale da Chef Movie Poster Image
Misogynist, sexist gags are disturbing, not amusing.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 97 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Only negative messages here. Characters display sexist, misogynist attitudes. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

No positive role models. Women are objectified. There is a badly judged joke about two Indian men.

Violence

Men continually sexually harass a woman. A man makes multiple attempts to seduce an elderly woman despite her saying "no" and making very clear attempts to push him away; he repeatedly talks about how "no" really can turn into "yes."

Sex

Major jokes rely on men objectifying women and one man coercing an elderly woman to have sex with him. Men spy on a woman getting dressed and slap her behind. In another scene, a man gropes a woman at a movie theater and later drunkenly enters her hotel room in an attempt to have sex with her. A photo of a woman wearing lacy underwear is passed around a group of men.

Language

Men use many crass words to describe women and women's body parts.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink wine. One man gets drunk and passes out.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Natale da Chef is a crude Italian-language comedy (currently unavailable with English subtitles). Many of the jokes objectify women and make light of sexual assault, and there is a strong language throughout. Multiple men ogle a woman, make excessive and repeated offensive comments about her body, spy on her getting dressed, and slap her on the behind. Other men attempt to seduce an elderly woman despite her very clear attempts to push them away. One man gropes the woman at a movie theater and then enters her hotel room, drunk, to ostensibly take her to bed. He discusses multiple times that the woman may say "no" now, but she'll really mean "yes" once she realizes how desirable he is. This man is then "rewarded" when a beautiful young woman falls in love with him, ostensibly because of his behavior toward the elderly woman and a drunken night of passion. Men share a photograph of a woman's behind in lacy underwear. These actions are all meant to be funny. There's also gross-out humor: For example, a man eats sheep droppings thinking they're olives. And there's abundant vomiting and farting.

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What's the story?

In NATALE DA CHEF, though Gualtiero's (Massimo Boldi) wife is a wonderful cook, his experiments in the kitchen produce disgusting dishes. When a failing caterer makes a deal with a competitor to lose a bid to cater the upcoming G7 conference in return for getting his debts paid off, the caterer sets out to find the worst kitchen staff he can. In comes Gualtiero as the head chef, along with a sous chef who's lost his sense of taste and smell, a wine waiter who doesn't drink alcohol, and a pastry chef who, instead of making cakes, jumps out of them at bachelor parties.

Is it any good?

This ridiculous comedy is painful to watch with its failed attempts at crass gross-out humor, slapstick, insults, and incredibly disturbing treatment of women. The plot, in which a caterer knowingly but secretly puts together a team of incompetent kitchen staff in an attempt to lose a competition, is rather inane. But with the right treatment it could have turned out some funny moments. Unfortunately, everything in Natale da Chef is so exaggerated and in such bad taste as to make it disturbing. The objectification of women is appalling, as is the lighthearted treatment of what could reasonably be considered sexual assault. There's also uncomfortable cultural insensitivity toward two men from India.

There are a few bright spots, such as a running gag on a police officer's name, a cute back and forth about a pet pig's name, and a few almost-clever jokes about G7 world leaders. But they're few and far between and do little to save the movie from itself. Natale da Chef portrayal of sexual harassment and assault as a comedic plot point sends a very disturbing message.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how women are treated in Natale da Chef. In what ways are women objectified by the men around them? Are there examples of men who treat women with respect?

  • What messages does the movie send about men's attitudes toward sex? What would be the consequences of such behavior in real life?

  • What makes gross-out/slapstick humor funny? Does it work in this movie? Can a movie go too far with this kind of humor? If so, who decides what "too far" means?

Movie details

For kids who love comedy

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