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January 2010

Chef's Special

cast: Javier C�mara, Lola Due�as, Fernando Tejero, Benjam�n Vicu�a, and Chus Lampreave

director: Nacho G. Velilla

111 minutes (15) 2009
widescreen ratio 1.78:1
TLA DVD Region 2 retail
[released 18 January]

RATING: 6/10
review by Jo Johnson-Smith

Chef's Special

I do love to watch movies from around the world and when I was given this one I thought 'brilliant, something to curl up with' but what I got instead was a 'made for TV' type movie. The whole premise is a little like The Birdcage, we get a successful gay man running the perfect restaurant and his life begins to unravel when his children arrive.

Usually I like to watch comedy but there's an undertone in the humour I didn't like, the overuse of 'gay bashing' jokes may be acceptable in Spanish territory it just smacks of intolerance here. It doesn't let up either and it does spoil the flow of the movie when you're trying not to hate the people you should care about.

In saying that though the interiors and actual dialogue are not that bad, its craft is well polished and the actors well placed. It's believable, and that's the sad factor, that even here a successful gay man with a solid relationship is made to question the entirety of his life. That he may have been misled and mistaken in his choices to be happy, to live as he is, even though it makes for good story.

Family-friendly Chef's Special (aka: Fuera de carta) is, and I'd be happy to show this to the kids I know and not worry about what they're seeing, just what they'd be picking up from the so called 'jokes'. The restaurant is the perfect place to show the humanity of the people he deals with, their little foibles and the efforts he goes to get himself recognised. After all he's desperate for recognition of his talent by getting a Michelin star and that in itself gives us a good laugh at the lengths he'll go to.

Overall, I did have fun with it but the humour left a bad taste in my mouth, it reminded me of Love Thy Neighbour, the old TV series that made fun of the differences between a white and black family in the 1970s. It was humour, yes; it showed the differences and the similarities as well, that everyone is human under the skin colour. But here it's a little 'off', I know Spain is catholic and to them any different lifestyle like this is hard to accept. And the effort has been made; I just think it would have been better without the rhetoric inside it. A good rainy day flick but remember to watch your language afterward.



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