Film Follies, Worth it?

Worth It?- Burnt

I have a confession to make. I heart Bradley Cooper. Like really heart him. It’s as if his charm reaches out and chokes me until I succumb to a dark slumber filled with dreams of winning smiles and brash one-liners. The man once made a movie about a gun-wielding raccoon an international blockbuster okay? There is no denying his allure. And when I first saw the trailer for Burnt I was genuinely excited to see charmingly brash Bradley Cooper play a recovering addict chef trying to put his life back together. A great casting choice coupled with what looked to be an edgy, darker take on the old “chef gets his groove back” movie formula. A subgenre of film which, as the son of a former cook and restaurant owner, I am a big, big fan of. Which is why I selected the film Burnt for this week’s edition of Worth It?
Unfortunately, instead of Burnt offering up a reimaging or even just a clever take on that well-worn tale what I got was the paint by numbers version. That’s not to say Burnt isn’t a well-crafted film and it is certainly an enjoyable one. It’s just that I’ve seen it done before. And I’ve seen it done better. Filmmaking and cooking are much the same in that your end product must be greater than the sum of its parts. Sure you can follow a recipe and come up with something half decent, something that meets people’s basic needs; but it will lack soul, that special spark that makes people sit up and take notice. To be special you must experiment, push boundaries, do something unexpected. Sure it won’t always work but sometimes it will and that’s the point. Perhaps the best condemnation of Burnt comes from the film itself. Sitting at a Burger King early in the film Bradley Cooper explains what the real problem is with fast food. “It’s too consistent. Consistency is death.” If only the minds behind Burnt had taken that lesson to heart.
So if you want a film about a chef “getting his groove back” go watch Chef. If you want a film about chefs falling in love and finding their flavor watch Mostly Martha or Simply Irresistible. If you want to watch a film about chasing a Michelin Star or impressing an impossible food critic watch The Hundred-Foot Journey or Ratatouille. They are all more interesting versions of the story Burnt is trying to tell. So to answer the question is Burnt Worth It? You must first ask yourself “Am I in the mood for something gourmet? Or am I willing to settle for fast food tonight?”

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