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Critics Really Do Not Like The Kitchen

Manohla Dargis calls it 'an offense against feminism'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 9, 2019 11:17 AM CDT

(Newser) – When their mobster husbands are sent to prison, three wives (Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, Elisabeth Moss) must find a way to make ends meet—even if it means taking on the mafia—in The Kitchen. Don't worry if you can't take the heat. There isn't much of it, according to critics, who give the R-rated flick from writer-director Andrea Berloff a dismal 20% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Four takes:

  • "There's so much that’s wrong here, including a lot of the music (Fleetwood Mac!); the confused tones" and "the disjointed, presumably triage editing," Manohla Dargis writes at the New York Times. But the film—a "terrible, witless mess"—is also "an offense against feminism" as the main characters are "never allowed to be sincerely and thoroughly bad—and as richly complex and contradictory and human—as any memorable male gangster," Dargis writes.
  • "Women can be just as vicious as men, asserts The Kitchen—making an argument few would contest and no one asked for," as Inkoo Kang puts it at Slate. It's "a joyless and exhausting movie" that "explicitly appeals to female solidarity approximately 7,000 times in two hours," Kang continues. To make matters worse, McCarthy and Haddish "strangely flounder in key scenes, their wavering accents more memorable than their lines."

  • The film "squanders its strong cast in a routine, and sometimes unbelievable, story that never quite comes together," leaving a "heaping pile of mediocrity," according to Cary Darling. The women "go from being meek victims to chopping up bodies in bathtubs in what feels like minutes" and "it's tough to work up the requisite amount of emotional investment to take any of this seriously," he adds at the Houston Chronicle.
  • "When it's actively exploring ambiguities of power and alliance, transaction and labor, leadership and territory, the film raises intriguing questions about capitalism, gender and race," Kyle Turner writes at NPR. But mostly it's "hampered by its need to justify its own existence." According to Turner, the film exudes a "palpable, hesitant self-doubt" as it "overexplains" the undervalued role of women, "employing clunky dialogue about how meaningful it is" that they take matters into their own hands.
(Read more movie review stories.)

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