Friday Film Review | "The Menu"
If you’re hungry for something different at the movies this holiday weekend, Linda Jager suggests you check out the new dark comedy/thriller “The Menu.”
Buckle up, foodies. If you’ve been looking forward to the release “The Menu,” you’re in for a wild adventure at the movies!
The new horror/comedy/thriller takes place during one unforgettable evening at a $1,200 per plate tasting menu at the ultra-exclusive, experiential restaurant Hawthorne. Set on a private island in the Pacific Northwest, Hawthorne is the creation of celebrity Chef Julian Slowik — played by Ralph Fiennes.
“The Menu” follows an eclectic group of wealthy elites, including a pretentious foodie and his date, a has-been actor and his assistant, a trio of finance bros, a wealthy couple celebrating their anniversary, and a renowned food critic and her editor. All eagerly get on board for what Chef promises will be the best meal of their entire life.
Once ashore, the guests are greeted by Hawthorne’s manager Elsa (played by Hong Chau), for a brief tour of the minimalist and mysterious grounds, including the staff’s sparse sleeping quarters, which lie in the shadow of Chef’s home – where no one enters.
All staff must live on the island to accommodate the 18-hour shifts required to prep and serve the 4-hour dining experience. And, not surprisingly, all of Hawthorne’s ingredients are sourced from the island for the ultimate farm-and-sea-to-table meal.
Upon entering the unique ocean-view dining space, the guests sit at their tables and wait for Chef to make his entrance. But first, Elsa explains that there are a few strict rules when dining at Hawthorne – NO photographs are to be taken of the food, and there will be absolutely NO substitutions!
Chef emerges from the kitchen to welcome all with a lengthy soliloquy on the art of savoring each dish. Like the tasting menu, the guests have been carefully curated to create a memorable evening with one exception - Margot (played by Anya Taylor-Joy) - the date of the pretentious foodie, Tyler (played by Nicholas Hoult) - who was a last-minute substitution.
At this point, it’s unclear where the plot is going, and to steer clear of spoilers, I’m not going to tell you. But be prepared to expect the unexpected!
“The Menu” was written by Seth Reiss and Will Tracy, both veteran late-night TV comedy writers and formerly staff writers at The Onion – the satirical news source. Tracy has also won an Emmy for his work on "Succession", the dark comedy series on HBO. Tracy, a foodie himself, shared that the film was inspired by a restaurant he visited in Norway. I hope his dinner there was much less eventful.
Rated R for violent content and language, “The Menu” is now playing in theaters. It will have you on the edge of your seat for most of its 1-hour-and-46-minute run time. I laughed out loud at the dark humor and cringed during the horror sandwiched between courses of the tasting menu, but “The Menu” is a film worth watching, especially for foodies.