Writer: Jennifer Goldson (Screenplay)
Starring: Santino Fontana, Dania Ramirez, Makenzie Moss, Maria Conchita Alonso, Jen Lilley, Kristen Dalton, Ian Reed Kesler
Plot: An unlikely heir to a Mexican fast-food franchise goes ‘cuisine’ hunting for the next culinary big thing, and finds himself in a small, dusty New Mexican town where foodies come from all over to salivate over the culinary treats of a local, authentic, and feisty female chef.
Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes
There may be spoilers the rest of the review
Verdict: Dishes up a Delightful Story
Story: Off the Menu starts as the man child Joel Flanagan (Fontana) the heir to Mexican fast-food chain Tortilla Hunt must take responsibility for his life, by going into the field to search for new flavours for the chain. Joel finds himself stranded in a small New Mexican town with their own star chef Javiera Torres (Ramirez) whose dishes bring people from all over the state to try her speciality. As the two clash at first, they both start to learn more about life, business and food as the true meaning of Javiera’s art form is revealed.
Thoughts on Off the Menu
Characters – Joel is a man child, set to inherit his fortune from his family business, not taking responsibility for his action and reluctantly taking the journey to New Mexico in search of new flavours. He can easily push people the wrong way, which leaves him needing to build the bridges he can burn so quickly. Javiera Torres is a singer mother and feisty chef that runs her own café, it gets rave reviews because of her ability to bring out the best in her culinary skills which brings people from all over to try her speciality. She enjoys the art of cooking which has seen her hurt in love too often, this café keeps her happy and her love for food alive. The rest of the characters include the family and friends of Javiera and the business associates of Joel’s.
Performances – Santino Fontana is an actor I am unfamiliar with, he comes into the leading role and manages to make you feel the way you are about his character from the opening hatred for him to the support you will show him by the end of the film. Dania Ramirez has appeared in plenty of films in supporting roles, to see her step up into the leading role is great and just like Santino she works great, the two work wonderfully together on screen. The rest of the cast work well through the film too.
Story – The story follows in the footsteps of Chef and Burnt, using love of food to tell and story, this time a love story. We have the idea a member of a mega rich fast-food chain is sent to try and steal ideas from small independent food source have made their unique touch to bring to the masses, but a new respect and a moment to grow up gives our character a chance to do the right thing. This story brings us everything we need for this to unfold as we know without offering any fresh touches, but this isn’t a bad thing it hits all the markers needed to make this an enjoyable story to see.
Comedy/Romance – The comedy comes mostly from Joel’s reaction towards people, it comes off more light-hearted over full blown comedy too, the romance is what you have come to expect, it works and is believable throughout.
Settings – The film uses the settings show the two different worlds Joel and Javiera come from and what is a real home to these two people.
Final Thoughts – This is a delightful rom com that brings the love of food into the mix, we have great performances, a simple idea that works so well and the cooking ideas will leave you wanting dinner, (so bring out a cooking book to go with the film).
Overall: Enjoyable from start to finish.