Feature > Reel Affirmations 2009

Chef's Special

Fuera de Carta

Date: Wednesday, 10/21/2009
Time: 9:00 pm

Venue: Shakepeare's Harman
Tickets: $10 - [Buy Tickets]

Type: Feature presentation
Language: Spanish with English subtitles

Metro Weekly Rating: starstarstar (3 out of 5)

MAXI HAS A full plate. His restaurant, with a staff of eccentrics and rapscallions, is teetering on financial collapse and needs a Michelin star to break through. His hostess and best friend, Alexandra, is a needy wreck in search of a man. His ex-wife -- he divorced after being discovered being boned by his brother-in-law -- just died and left their two resentful children in his care.

And the super-hot former soccer star who moved in across the hall seems to be interested in more than Maxi's entrees.

Chef's Special throws all of these ingredients into the pot in hopes of cooking up a banquet of comic mischief, but the resulting dish is the type that generally earns a ''Please pack your knives and go.''

While the Spanish film obviously owes some debts to early comedies from Pedro Almodovar, its major debt is to the world of sitcom television. Characters move across the screen engaging in various shenanigans that never feel like a natural outgrowth of character but instead from a screenwriter thinking, ''Now, wouldn't it be funny if....''

So while some individual scenes have bits of comic flair -- soccer player Horacio's accidental coming out on live TV, for example -- every situation is based on every character declining to pay any attention to any other character. In the end, you get a happy ending because, well, movies like this are supposed to have a happy ending.

A flat farce, Chef's Special offers an occasional tasty amuse bouches, but little of more substance.

More information

Film Links:

Festival Venue:

Shakespeare Theatre's Harman Center for the Arts
610 F Street, NW; Washington, DC 20004 [map]
(202) 547-1122
Near the Archives-Navy Memorial Yellow/Green Line Metro


For more information, pick up a copy of the Reel Affirmations 19 program guide or visit www.reelaffirmations.org.

For individual tickets and festival passes, visit www.reelaffirmations.org. Festival passes are $150 and allow for entry to all films except opening and closing nights. Tickets are available at the door of each showing or at Universal Gear (1529 14th St. NW).

For more information, call 202-547-1122 or visit www.reelaffirmations.org.