14 May 2003 | rosscinema
Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci are good friends in real life and together they made this delicious gem. Tucci plays Secondo who along with his brother Primo (Tony Shalhoub) run a restaurant named the Paradise. Primo is a genius as a chef but they are on the verge of going out of business so Secondo goes down the street to a very popular place run by an acquaintance named Pascal (Ian Holm) and Secondo asks for a loan. Pascal doesn't give it to him but decides to help him by having singer Louis Prima come to their restaurant with the press knowing he's coming also. Their restaurant will become famous when its mentioned in the paper so the two brothers plan a big night with special meals. Secondo invites his girlfriend Phyllis (Minnie Driver) and Primo wants to invite the flower shop woman Ann (Allison Janney) but is to shy. Secondo helps him out by inviting her. This is another enjoyable film where food is the common component that enables them to communicate. The food and its preparation is the art of the film. Watching Primo prepare meals is a real spectacle to behold. He really does come across as a great chef, there is no doubt as you watch this. But at the core of this film is the love and respect of Secondo and Primo as brothers. Even when they argue it is done with mutual respect. Yes, they get furious but at no real time do we get the feeling that they will walk away from one another. Scott and Tucci have created a wonderful blend of food and love and its the relationship between the two brothers that is the key here. Secondo is having problems committing to Phyllis and while its an important part of the film, its not the main focus. Janney adds just the right touch as Ann and you can understand the awe that she feels when she watches Primo at work and can witness his skill first hand. Tucci and Shalhoub shine in their roles and together they bring a very good film up another notch! This film also does a believable job of recreating the time period that the film is suppose to take place in. When people ask me for a good film to rent I always think of this one. Its a real gem.