A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Lasse Hallstrom's The Hundred-Food Journey follows the journey of Hassan (Manish Dayal), a young and extremely talented chef, and his/his family's culture clash with rival restaurateur Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren). The many mouth-watering food scenes are often accompanied by wine, and there are some scenes in which one character starts to drink a bit more heavily (to suggest depression). Two brief moments feature some violence (including one in which men throw fire bombs) -- one of which causes a sad death. There are also a few romantic kisses and suggestions of intimacy and language along the lines of "bloody."
- Parents say
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What's the story?
After unrest drives them away from their native India to London, Hassan (Manish Dayal) and his family take to the road and find themselves stranded when their brakes fail in a small French town. Hassan's father decides it's just the spot to open an Indian restaurant. Directly across the street, Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren) runs another restaurant, one with a long, proud tradition of fine French dining -- and possessed of a famed Michelin star. She's not happy with her new neighbors and declares war on their rival eatery. Meanwhile, Hassan starts to fall for Marguerite, the sous chef in Mallory's kitchen, who teaches him the basics of French cuisine.
Is it any good?
Like beef bourguignon, one of the many dishes filmed so delectably in this production, THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY is a crowd-pleasing classic. The family story, told with empathy and love here, is its base; the food scenes that are odes to the art of cooking, framed through a cross-cultural prism, are its mea; and the gorgeous French countryside and melodic Indian music are its garnish. It's a delight to watch, especially because of the cast.
But, also just like beef bourguignon, it's not particularly inventive, even if the story centers around a young man's ingenuity in the kitchen. You know what you're getting. A true master chef -- as director Lasse Hallstrom has revealed himself to be in many previous turns at the helm -- would take a classic and turn it into something transcendent, adding elements that transform, rather than just substituting one ingredient (the location, perhaps) for another and hoping it feels different. Still, the film is big-hearted and filling enough -- so filling that it runs too long, actually -- to be a pleasant enough cinematic meal.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: August 8, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: December 2, 2014
- Cast: Helen Mirren, Charlotte Le Bon, Manish Dayal, Om Puri
- Director: Lasse Hallstrom
- Studio: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 122 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: thematic elements, some violence, language and brief sensuality
For kids who love romance and drama
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