Food porn is a popular form of entertainment in the ever expanding reality entertainment market. The fascination of seeing different culinary styles and combinations on screen has been quite the phenomenon with viewers for some strange reason. Television may be the more popular medium when it comes to food porn but motion pictures also tend to dabble in this mysterious form of visual delight. The latest dramedy The Hundred-Foot Journey is a big budget silly, sometimes sincere stew full of strong performances, formulaic plot devices, and the occasional humorous moment. It is a cutesy, straightforward film rated PG, so it is easy to digest for much of the family in search of some tasty cinema.
The Hundred-Foot Journey focuses on the Kadam family, a humble group who has moved from India to a quaint little town in the South of France. The family’s patriarch Papa (Om Puri) is stubborn and headstrong and determined to open an Indian eatery in the area. This proves difficult however when they learn that a classic French restaurant thrives across the street, a hundred feet away, roughly. The manager of the competing restaurant is a cold, uppity woman named Madam Mallory (Helen Mirren) and she constantly butts heads with the Kadams. Another premise springs up concerning Hassan, the eldest Kadam child who shows expert skill in the kitchen. His prowess is then put to the test.
Based on Richard C. Morais’ novel of the same name, The Hundred-Foot Journey is a charming story with colorful characters and a style appropriate for the whole family. There are moments of broad comedy peppered throughout and there are more tender scenes which won’t inspire tears but then again, they are meaningful and sincere.
The cast in The Hundred-Foot Journey is what truly shines. Seasoned Indian actor Om Puri is top notch as the struggling restaurateur and devoted father. He brings a certain sense of realism to the production and his comic timing is truly wonderful. His character actually has the best scenes and interactions with Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren who is perfect in the role of the antagonist. If only more of the film could have focused on these two because they are just great together.
Sadly, the second half of the film drags a bit and shines the spotlight on the arrogant and unlikable Hassan, who is played by Manish Dayal. His blossoming culinary career becomes the main plot point and the audience must then watch his evolution from young kitchen worker to renowned chef. A subplot involving a love interest attempts to make things interesting but falls rather short.
With Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey serving as executive producers on this film, one thing is certain and that is money is no object here. From the actors to the score to the set decoration, The Hundred-Foot Journey is one big-budget chunk of cinema. It is an appealing and relatively innocent film but the premise feels all too familiar and the decision to focus on the character of Hassan could have been thought out better. Dramedies come and go and luckily, The Hundred-Foot Journey has more pros than cons.