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REVIEW OF THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY

year: 2014 rating: ***
Food porn version of THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, only here a family from India moves to Europe and finds their own little paradise… and not without a few roadblocks…

Enter our leading lady who is really the main antagonist... Although Helen Mirren plays French restaurant owner Madame Mallory with such hateful precision you know she’s bound to melt. Thankfully it’s not a contrived transition as the Indian family, headlined by an optimistic yet stubbornly grouchy patriarch, Papa, played by scene-stealer Om Puri, and his talented son Hassan, the head cook for the makeshift restaurant opened right across the street from the Madam's elegant small town mainstay, become her new competition...

So the most fun is had during scenes where Mallory and Papa wage war, playing dirty tricks to mess up each other’s business: his from growing and hers’ from remaining the most popular. This story, highlighted by Puri’s subtle yet hilarious performance trumping Mirren's limited stonewall, narrows down into young Hassan’s venture from smalltime cook to a hopeful master chef. 

While American-born Manish Dayal is likeable enough as the buried lead, you might cringe as he annoyingly sideswipes Papa’s humor with constant whining, and the budding romance with Mallory’s head chef is unrealistic – French actress Charlotte Le Bon is much too pretty for the role, and the chemistry is just not there. But the main problem with Hassan’s story is it just doesn’t know when to end, making this HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY about twenty minutes too long.
 
The humorous dialogue and picturesque locations aside, what really works is what's left out: that being political or religious banter, excessive swearing or anything polarizing. It’s a universally appealing family film, for the most part, although mostly recommended for parents and grandparents who enjoy an old fashion cinematic meal with style and class... and plenty of lightweight sarcasm.  
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