The Boston Phoenix
Review from issue: September 7 - 14, 2000

[Boston Film Festival]

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What's Cooking?

It's Thanksgiving in LA. The Williamses (mom: Alfre Woodard) are a black family. Son has dropped out of school. Dad has been having an affair. Mother-in-law is a pain in the ass. The Seeligs (mom: Lainie Kazan) are a Jewish family. They're farklempt when daughter Ruth (Kyra Sedgwick) brings home her lover (Julianna Margulies) and the relationship must be concealed from prying Aunt Bee. The Nguyens (mom: Joan Chen) are a Vietnamese family. Son Gary has a gun. Daughter Jenny has a condom. Worse, the guy who's wearing it is not Asian. The Avilas (mom: Mercedes Ruehl) are a Latino family. Dad fooled around with mom's cousin. Son Anthony invites him to dinner anyway. Daughter Gina is dating the Nguyens' son. The Avilas makes nice with him by imitating Bruce Lee.

Despite the best efforts of the ensemble cast and some mouth-watering culinary cinematography, Gurinder Chadha's first American feature is more of a glorified Turkey Day TV-movie than a substantial cinematic experience. Perhaps Chadha -- of Indian descent, born in Kenya, raised in the UK -- has an excuse for her glib take on this most American of holidays, but the families serve up such a broad array of social issues that the film becomes a shopping list of dysfunctions with a perfunctory happy ending. Screens tonight at 7 and 9:30 p.m. and tomorrow at 11:20 a.m. and 2 and 4:40 p.m.

-- Mike Miliard

Film Festival Feature Films

Shadow of the Vampire | Songcatcher | Venus Beauty Institute | What's Cooking? | The Broken Hearts Club | Envy | Goya in Bordeaux | Human Resources | Skipped Parts | Amargosa | Henry Hill | Relative Values | The Rising Place | The Contender | Pitch People | Roof to Roof | Four Dogs Playing Poker | Reckless Indifference | Requiem for a Dream | Shadow Magic | About Adam | Charming Billy | Enemies of Laughter | Into the Arms of Strangers | Running on the Sun | A Trial in Prague | Harry, He's Here to Help | A Man is Mostly Water | Seven Girlfriends

Also, Boston Film Festival short films

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