The trailer will tell you exactly where this movie is going – and it pretty much goes there – but with warmth and humor and lots of special moments along the way. This is a Lasse Hallstrom movie and if you know some of his other work – “Chocolat,” “The Cider House Rules,” “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” — you know that his characters always have an extra dose of humanity and his stories always come with extra heart. And this one does. It’s sometimes corny, often charming, always good-natured. The dishes are spicy, the recipes are healthy, the people are crusty, the scenery is beautiful. This is the second big “food movie” of the summer (after “Chef”) and this one has more of a storyline, more fully developed characters, more dramatic moments in the plot.
And, with Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey as producers, it comes without the usual dose of sex, violence, smoking, and four-letter words that others feel necessary to include to prove they’re hip and cool. There’s lots here to savor. Mirren shows both French attitude and human understanding as Mme. Mallory; Puri as Papa, with his eagerness to “make a deal” brings warmth and love for his family to everything he does Dayal, as Hassan, is a natural actor and a really likeable guy. And LeBon is charming as Marguerite. Like the meals served in Madame Mallory’s French restaurant, the ingredients in this movie are choice and the presentation is world class. And like the meals served just 100 feet across the way, in the Maison Mumbai, the portions are generous and the flavors come through. It’s a nice combination, a tasty movie that will leave you full – and very satisfied. It’s worth the journey to the theatre.