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19 Reviews
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5.0 out of 5 stars Typical Thanksgiving Day
This movie was great. It shows a typical thanksgiving day in four different households. It goes without saying, there are
problems in every family. If you are expecting A WALTON MOUNTAIN THANKSGIVING or even THANKSGIVING WITH THE CLEAVERS, I'm sorry this is real.
Published on May 31 2004 by Michael R. Delfin

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars a good entertaning movie
This movie is not the best i've seen. but it is good for a rainy day. I say rent this and if you like it good if not sorry. This is kind of a chick flick just to worn.
Published on June 2 2001 by J. Whiston


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5.0 out of 5 stars Typical Thanksgiving Day, May 31 2004
By 
Michael R. Delfin "Mike Delfin" (Houston, Texas USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This movie was great. It shows a typical thanksgiving day in four different households. It goes without saying, there are
problems in every family. If you are expecting A WALTON MOUNTAIN THANKSGIVING or even THANKSGIVING WITH THE CLEAVERS, I'm sorry this is real.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite and spicy banquet for the soul, Jan. 13 2004
By 
Roberto L. Martinez "yukiyu99" (Clemmons, NC USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Food and its preparation is one of the things that define us, our culture and how we come together with our families.
Writer/Director Gurinder Chadha (who will later write and direct Bend it like Beckham) brings us her first "american" film: an exquisite, sweet and even sexy (while brutally honest) look at contemporary family dynamics in present-day L.A, using food (and surprisingly enough, surfer music) as the thread to sew together the trials and tribulations of four "ethnic" families during a Thanksgiving day.
But "What's cooking" is more than "just" a food movie, or a Thanksgiving movie. Through an amazing ensemble cast (including Academy Award winner Mercedes Ruehl), ingenous cinematography, smart direction and an outstanding script, Director Chadra makes us feel the joys and pains of these characters.
The story itself is simple: follow the lives of four West L.A. families (Latino, Vietnamese, Black and Jewish) through a Thanksgiving Day. But immediately we get drawn into very powerful statements about love, family, community, divorce, diversity, racism, politics, tolerance and violence. We identify with these characters because we can all relate to their problems, and their family interactions.
I highly recommend this film because it is beautifully and skillfully done, and because of the great actor performances, particularly the female leads. Alfre Woodard is exquisite and brutally believable as the wife trying to keep her family together. Joan Chen, Lainie Kazan and of course Mercedes Ruehl all give extraordinary performances as the matriarchs of these families. Julianna Margulies and Kyra Sedgwick are a joy to watch as a lesbian couple. Dennis Haysbert ("24", Far From Heaven) is fabulous also.
For all you Seinfeld fans out there, you get a glimpse of Estelle Harris in yet another Estelle Costanza incarnation. With her, the loveable Ralph Manza as uncle David (Gepetto in "The Cigar Store Indian").
DVD extras include interviews (they're interesting, although not well edited; it feels like they were "thrown together" at the last minute,sometimes even cutting off mid-sentence, but the raw material is there), theatrical trailer, recipes, and a commentary track (with Writer/Director Chadha and co-writer and husband Paul Mayeda Berger). As expected, the commentary track gives us an inside look ad the writing, casting, production, cinematography and the filming process in general.
Expect bigger and greater things from this power couple.
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4.0 out of 5 stars fun film about four families, Sept. 25 2003
By 
audrey (white mtns) - See all my reviews
This is a fun premise -- spending the Thanksgiving holiday with four very different LA families -- that is executed very well, with capable direction and a fine cast. Children are coming home and families are setting extra places as friends and members of these families -- one Asian, one Hispanic, one Jewish and one African-American -- get together and face various real-life issues such as parent-child disagreements, meeting the SO's parents, in-laws, adultery, etc. The movie could have been riddled with cliches, but a decent script and excellent cast -- including Mercedes Ruehl, Alfre Woodard, Lanie Kazan, Dennis Haysbert and Joan Chen -- make this an entertaining film that is part drama but mostly comedy. Don't watch this while you're dieting, though, as there are many scenes of the wonderful dinners being prepared.
DVD features include subtitles in English, French or Spanish; a commentary track with writer/director Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Backham) and co-writer Paul Berges; interview segments with the director on the characters and on Thanksgiving, with Kyra Sedgwick on Julianna Margulies, with Mercedes Ruehl on the film's premise, with Dennis Haysbert on Los Angeles, with Joan Chen on food, and with Alfre Woodard on Chadha; and recipes for Vietnamese spring rolls, tamales, rustic (apple) pie, macaroni & cheese, noodle kugel and oyster-shiitake stuffing.
Definitely a worthwhile rental.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Melting Pot, Sept. 3 2003
By 
Matthew Gladney (Champaign-Urbana, IL USA) - See all my reviews
Much like her 2003 hit movie "Bend It Like Beckham", Gurinder Chadha's "What's Cooking?" is infused with people who love one another very much, and so even though some tough issues are thrown their way, we know that, because of that love, they will get through life's obstacles ok.
"What's Cooking" centers around four families living on the same block in Los Angeles. They don't know each other, however, and instead, like most modern families, are focused on their own problems and worries. Chadha makes good use of "the American melting pot" idea, as one family is Italian, one is hispanic, one is black, and one is Asian. One of the most wonderful aspects of the movie is that, even though the people are of different ethnicities, they are portrayed respectfully as human beings. We can relate to each of them. They are different, but the same. Isn't that the underlying truth of us all? People are, indeed, people.
There are some nice performances here: Alfre Woodard is great as a stressed, neglected wife. Dennis Haysbert is quiet, cool and simmering as her husband. Mercedes Ruehl shines as the mother of the hispanic family, trying to move on with her life from an ex-husband that just won't understand that it's over between them. Kyra Sedgwick and Julianna Margulies are endearing as a lesbian couple on their first trip to meet the parents. Estelle Harris (of "Seinfeld" fame) is deliciously wicked as the aunt who just keeps pushing the issue. And, of course, there's Lainie Kazan -- always a treat.
I saw this film at Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival in 2003, and it was very well-received. There are dramatic, serious moments, and then there are quite hilarious moments. The theater was filled with laughter a number of times, and deservedly so. In the end, this is a 'feel-good' film. And one which will also have you salivating throughout, as each family is busy cooking and preparing their Thanksgiving dinners.
This is the second Gurinder Chadha movie that I have seen, and from what I have tell, she seems to really believe the best of people. Yes, we fight. Yes, we quarrel. Yes, we disagree. But at the heart of humanity has to be love and understanding, if we are to get along and survive. "What's Cooking" embodies this sentiment wonderfully. It was a joy to watch.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Ethnic Cliches, Stock Characters, Amateur Cast, Nov. 21 2002
The story is boring, plot-development uninteresting and slow, and the overdramatic cast, especially the younger ones that might benefit from a few years' worth of acting lessons, not worth the while. I just couldn't bring myself to care about the families and their corresponding stories. The actresses, particularly, were unconvincing even in depicting cliches. What a waste of a mediocre idea on lack of talent!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Movie, April 30 2002
This review is from: What S Cooking? (VHS Tape)
This is a great movie about families from different backgrounds having their Thanksgiving dinner together. I love the way the Lesbian daughter has to confront her parents and how two families are forced to deal with their differences because their kids are dating.
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5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant, Feb. 19 2002
By A Customer
Simply one of the best movies I have ever seen. All the actors are great and the story lines intriguing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fan-freakin-tastic!!, Jan. 15 2002
By 
There are indie films,and then there are stay-with-you always amazing indie films. The cast is only the icing to a tale weaved so subtly the ending would blow you away (well, not to give it away).

Like the culinary theme, which also left me hungry, this is one film which will whet your appetite for the acutely accurate portrayal of the immigrant society in America. I know as an Asian I was stunned by the director's resounding voice in her unflinching representation of that community. And the range of emotions it will evoke will leave you laughing, crying, thinking...just from one scene to another. I also appreciate the really uncheesy, un-gratituous lesbian story-line (but of course a lady director would know better!)

So it's a keeper. Buy it so you can share it with people you love and so you can watch it again.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Thanksgiving and the Melting Pot ad nauseum, Nov. 2 2001
By 
This review is from: What S Cooking? (VHS Tape)
Sorry to say that I was not able to walk out of this film. It is
disturbing to find that people respond positively to a such an on-slaught of racial stereotypes. While starved for stimulating dialogue, I was force-fed ceaseless gorey close-ups of Food Food Food Food, greasy and ill colored. Ofcourse most of the cast are great actors, but what a sad waste of talent. Last but not least, if you're looking for the usual smidgin of lesbian sexuality - it's barely a crumb.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thanksgiving Dinner, Sept. 12 2001
By 
"kmartinklover" (SanFrancisco, California United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: What S Cooking? (VHS Tape)
This is a story of 4 families as they sit down for Thanksgiving Dinner..There are secrets, affairs, and even a child thinkin about shooting someone..Maybe Love can help these people find there way back to each other...
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What's Cooking (Sous-titres français) [Import]
What's Cooking (Sous-titres français) [Import] by Gurinder Chadha (DVD - 2003)
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