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No Reservations: A Pleasant Surprise

In No Reservations, Catherine Zeta-Jones plays Kate, a hard-headed, controlling chef who refuses to let people into her heart. Going into the screening for No Reservations, I felt a little bit like Kate — prematurely wary that this movie would leave me feeling burned, so to speak. To my astonishment, it wormed its way into my heart by the end, gentle and sweet as a raspberry sorbet.

The sentimental drama (which is a remake of the German film Mostly Martha) begins with Kate talking to her therapist — about food. She's been ordered to see a therapist by her boss, the no-nonsense (but exceedingly accommodating with customers) restaurant manager Paula (Patricia Clarkson). As the story unfolds, we sporadically attend therapy along with Kate, who gradually opens up to her therapist. Structuring the story around these visits is a seemingly simplistic device that works exceptionally well to make the audience feel safe and satisfied. This way, there's a definite progression we can make with Kate as she begins to trust her therapist — along with herself. Yet therapy isn't the only aspect to this movie, so

Early in the movie Kate's sister Christine dies suddenly and Kate's niece Zoe (Abigail Breslin, who is so honest and adorable it just breaks your heart in half) is left in her care. Meanwhile, to Kate's deep dismay, a handsome new sous chef named Nick (Aaron Eckhart) is hired at the restaurant. Yet before long, Nick's infectious joie de vivre takes hold of everyone — even little Zoe, who seems to blossom in his presence.

As the story continues, Kate's icy resolve starts to melt, but the predictable trap of characters too easily changing to resolve the story's conflicts doesn't ensnare these characters, refreshingly. Kate, while tender and more patient in the end, is still Kate and still has a lot to learn about Zoe and about being a parent. Aaron Eckhart is ridiculously endearing as Nick, his character a little on the one-dimensional side, but down-to-earth enough to leave viewers wholeheartedly rooting for him to succeed with Kate.

With the exception of some montages full of contrived "bonding" images (Nick, Kate and Zoe riding a three-seater bike, for starters), the tender relationship between a grieving child and her overwhelmed aunt resounds with surprising truthfulness. Every trite, overused moment or line is tempered by the honesty of their relationship. I had plenty of reservations about this movie from watching the misleading trailer, but now that I've seen it, take my advice and don't hold back from seeing No Reservations. And if you're hungry afterward, Yum can show you how to make Kate's famous scallops with saffron sauce.

Join The Conversation
Beth1122 Beth1122 9 years
I saw this last night, and I thought it was terribly cheesy, but that was what I expected. I like girly cheesy movies every now and again, and I think this one was my fix for a while.
vina vina 9 years
awesome, i can't wait to watch this movie.
thatsvy thatsvy 9 years
I knew it was a remake of Mostly Martha! When I saw the previews I was excited about a foodie movie, but the more I saw the more it looked like Mostly Martha! Ahhh!!! God see the original!
beingtazim beingtazim 9 years
looks like a movie i can watch with my mom this christmas. i know she'll love it.
snickerdoodle snickerdoodle 9 years
Aaron Eckhart and Catherine Zeta-Jones are actors that are (pretty much) unfailingly charming to watch. I've always been delighted by the way that they can turn unforgivably self-centered characters into fascinating ones, or irredeemably cliched roles into lovable ones. From this review, it looks like they're both living up to that! Thanks Buzz.
lemuse20 lemuse20 9 years
I can't wait to see this. CZ-J is oh so classy, love her!
Choco-cat Choco-cat 9 years
I saw Mostly Martha. It was good, but not so fantastic that I need to go see the Americanized version.
bellerose78 bellerose78 9 years
I can't wait to see this film! Now, if only I could convince my boyfriend to see it with me...
Linda-McP Linda-McP 9 years
Thanks for the great review, Buzz. Looking forward to seeing this one over the weekend.
Food Food 9 years
i was surprised by this one too! i went expecting it to be a cheesefest, but it was actually quite nice. something you could comfortably rent with your gal pals and their grannies too.
pinkflats pinkflats 9 years
hahaha Buzz, you didn't butcher the movie. and now that you wrote a decent review for it i'll check it out.
thehabra thehabra 9 years
meh..looks quite ordinary.Might rent it, though.
blondebombshell blondebombshell 9 years
I am dying to see this, thanks for the review!
partysugar partysugar 9 years
It was very cute and I enjoyed it!
mwmsjuly19 mwmsjuly19 9 years
Looks cute. Feels like a rental, though.
figurine figurine 9 years
Cool, cool. Looking forward to seeing this one, I always enjoy watching Catherine Zeta-Jones. And whoo, Patricia Clarkson!
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