Director Lasse Hallström has so carefully refined his algorithmic approach to sentimentality that it’s almost hard not to fall victim to The Hundred-Foot Journey. Based on a novel by Richard Morais, the setup is maddening: After an act of violence leaves Papa (Om Puri) a widower, his family migrates from Mumbai to rural France and opens an Indian eatery right across the street from a Michelin-starred restaurant run by the imperious, also-widowed Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren). Then, of course, culinarily gifted son Hassan (Manish Dayal) learns to explore the cuisine of his new country via the competition’s comely sous chef. Cue the expected slow-mo close-ups of hands chopping, seasoning and whipping; whimsical exclamations like “the vegetables had no soul”; and blooming cross-cultural romances that reveal the distance between the rivals—seemingly worlds apart at first—as easily spanned. The film wins some points for its unifying message and representation of parties typically marginalized in American movies, including South Asians and adults above the age of, say, 35. But its conspicuous machinery and cutesy condescension (Papa is rendered haplessly incorrigible for his bartering inclinations, and Madame quaintly French with xenophobic references to “zeez people”) leave a sour aftertaste.
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- Release Date: Tuesday, August 5, 2014
- MPAA Rating: PG
- Critic's Score: C
- Watch the trailer