No Reservations 2 stars
Starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, Abigail Breslin, Patricia Clarkson and Jennifer Wade. Directed by Scott Hicks. Released by Warner Bros. Rated PG; 1:45.
A PG chick flick is like a fat-free brownie. Might look like a brownie. Might feel like a brownie. Might even smell like a brownie. But, damn, you know once you take that first bite of brown cardboard, you will be bitterly disappointed by the tease.
Enter “No Reservations,” the fat-free version of your standard chick-flick. Gorgeous and talented cast? Check. Suitably sad story? Check. Triumphant spirit, cute children? Check, check. There are even a few sprinkles of musical montage floating around, like fake walnuts. But in the end, there is nothing like fulfillment; it ain’t no Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chip. Vanilla soft serve at Mickey D’s? Yeah.
The story is built around Kate (Catherine Zeta-Jones), an uptight but successful NYC chef. Her kitchen is spotless and her apron is tied tightly around her waist. No wrinkles, no stains, no mess … until that day (dramatic pause) …
Kate’s world gets turned upside down when her sister dies in a car wreck and she takes in her pre-teen niece Zoe (Abigail Breslin from “Little Miss Sunshine”). Kate tries her best with the grieving Zoe and turns to her kitchen talents to get them both through the tough times. Soon enough a hunky and humble Nick (Aaron Eckhart) hires on to help out in the restaurant, which puts her panties in a wad because a) she loses some control with the staff and b) he relates to Zoe better than she does.
Zeta-Jones, who never seems to shake that Welsh accent, does a great job evoking the rigid OCD personality. Eckhart … well … he knows a bit too much about fat-free brownies.