Hundred-Foot Journey: Mediocre Food Picture from Spielberg and Winfrey

DreamWorks’ “The Hundred-Foot Journey” (THFJ) launched in fourth place with $3.7 million on Friday. The food dramedy from producers Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey centers around dueling chefs from two very different walks of life.

We gave the film a C+ rating, and on Rotten Tomatoes it scores 62 percent rating (2 out of 3 reviews are positive, and one negative).

Food movies are usually doing better than this one at the box-office.  The story of THFJ is quite interesting but conventional, and despite some twists and turns, the ending is predictable.

It unfolds as a familiar culture clash and Odd Couple saga.  Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal) is a culinary ingénue with the gastronomic equivalent of perfect pitch. Displaced from their native India, the Kadam family, led by Papa (Om Puri), settles in the quaint village of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val in the south of France. Filled with charm, it is both picturesque and elegant – the ideal place to settle down and open an Indian restaurant, the Maison Mumbai.

Things change when the chilly chef proprietress of Le Saule Pleureur, a Michelin starred, classical French restaurant run by Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren), gets wind of it. Her protests against the new Indian restaurant a hundred feet from her own, escalate to all out war between the two establishments.

But Hassan’s passion for French haute cuisine and for Mme. Mallory’s enchanting sous chef, Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon), combine with his mysteriously delicious talent to weave magic between their two cultures and imbue Saint-Antonin with the flavors of life that even Mme. Mallory cannot ignore.

At first Mme. Mallory’s culinary rival, she eventually recognizes Hassan’s gift as a chef and takes him under her wing.