Tasting Menu

Movie review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Tasting Menu Movie Poster Image
Haute-cuisine comedy doesn't deliver on food or laughs.
  • PG-13
  • 2014
  • 85 minutes

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Kids say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

There's nothing more precious than personal freedom, and it's possible to be free even when you're in a relationship with someone. Get out of your comfort zone and wonderful things will happen. Let yourself enjoy what life throws at you, even if it isn't what you thought you wanted.

Positive Role Models & Representations

No real bad guys here, although a minor character is an unpleasant oaf. The all-adult characters are well behaved. A recently divorced couple rehashes their relationship with alternating fondness and bitterness. Mar Vidal, the restaurant's chef, runs an exemplary kitchen without temper tantrums and demonstrates handling a crisis in a calm and collected manner.

Violence
Sex

Two or three passionate kisses. A song prominent during a montage mentions "making love until we're half-dead."

Language

"Penis" three or four times.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The all-adult cast drinks cocktails and wine. Some eventually act tipsy, but they're usually shown taking small sips with a world-class meal. A couple of scenes in a dive bar show minor characters with beer. Adults are shown half a dozen times smoking cigarettes or pipes. A character is told she can't smoke in the bathroom and she says that in fact she can -- and she does.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Tasting Menu is a low-key, subtle comedy with very little to be concerned about. It's set in Spain, so there's a lot of dialogue in Catalan and Spanish with subtitles, but there's also a fair amount of English, too. Adults sometimes smoke cigarettes and pipes, so the movie could be a chance to talk about cultural attitudes about smoking and its risks. They're also frequently seen drinking cocktails and wine but in the context of a special meal at a world-class restaurant. A character learning a few Japanese words and phrases repeats "penis" in English several times in one scene. There are two or three romantic kisses.

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What's the story?

After 15 years of running one of the world's top and most exclusive restaurants, chef Mar Vidal (Vicenta N'Dongo) decides it's time to move on and do something different with her life. An eclectic mix of customers secures the coveted reservations for Chef Vidal's last meal, including a couple who divorced in the year since they made the dinner reservation, an aging countess who brings her husband's ashes with her for the occasion, rival businessmen hoping to lure Chef to Japan for her next venture, and a lone oddball (Stephen Rea) who could be an undercover critic. Everything goes smoothly until it's time for dessert. If the diners and staff can band together, it'll be a meal, and a night, they'll never forget.

Is it any good?

Although it's a warm and affectionate tribute to haute cuisine, TASTING MENU doesn't really stimulate either the palate or the funny bone. It has some eye candy for food lovers, to be sure, but it's fairly sterile in terms of sensory appreciation. The Zen-like serenity in the pristine kitchen is a bit alienating, and people actually eating or reacting to the food is more a background activity. Which would be fine if the viewer were given a reason to really enter the characters' lives. Unfortunately they're not especially well developed either. They're amiably played as well-recognizable types, but it's not enough to engage the viewer emotionally.

Teens will find little to relate to with an all-adult cast and a subtle humor that occasionally delivers a weak chuckle at most. Both hard-core foodies and people in the mood for a light comedy will finish still feeling hungry.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why we enjoy movies and TV shows about cooking so much. Why is that world so fascinating?

  • Do you wish you could make any of the dishes in movie? Which ones?

  • Would you like to be a world-famous chef or work in a top kitchen? Why, or why not?

Movie details

For kids who love comedy

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