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Andrea Berloff
Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, Elisabeth Moss
Writing Credits:
Andrea Berloff

The wives of New York gangsters in Hell's Kitchen in the 1970s continue to operate their husbands' rackets after they're locked up in prison.

Box Office:
$38 million.
Opening Weekend
$5,527,410 on 2745 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Descriptive Audio
French Dolby 5.1
Portuguese Dolby 5.1
Latin Spanish
Supplements Subtitles:
Latin Spanish

Runtime: 102 min.
Price: $35.99
Release Date: 11/5/2019

• “Running Hell’s Kitchen” Featurette
• “Taking Over the Neighborhood” Featurette
• Deleted Scene
• Previews


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The Kitchen [Blu-Ray] (2019)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 31, 2019)

Based on a short-run comic book series, 2019’s The Kitchen takes us back to the Hell’s Kitchen section of New York City circa 1978. In this setting, the Irish mob operates as a heavy presence.

FBI Agents Gary Silvers (Common) and Gonzalo Martinez (EJ Bonilla) bust gangsters Kevin O'Carroll (James Badge Dale), Jimmy Brennan (Brian d'Arcy James) and Rob Walsh (Jeremy Bobb).

This leaves their wives Ruby (Tiffany Haddish), Kathy (Melissa McCarthy) and Claire (Elisabeth Moss) in the lurch, as their husbands’ mob superiors fail to give them enough money to survive.

When the women learn that local businesses feel dissatisfied with the protection they pay local boss “Little” Jackie Quinn (Myk Watford), they take matters into their own hands. They become their own criminal enterprise, an endeavor that leads them to butt heads with other gangs in the area.

Inevitably, many will compare Kitchen to 2018’s Widows, as both pursue similar themes. The two movies focus on women left behind after their criminal male partners go away and they also show the women’s attempts to take control of their own fates via illicit enterprises.

I wasn’t wild about Widows, but it delivers a more satisfying experience than the cliché, thin Kitchen. More of a sketchy look at crime and sexism, the movie sputters as it goes.

Clearly informed by the works of Martin Scorsese, Kitchen never manages to pursue a coherent story. It flits among the women without clarity and fails to develop any of the characters or themes in a satisfying manner.

Instead, it becomes a collection of scenes without real drama or nuance. We pursue predictable events and circumstances without much to ground these or make them compelling.

It doesn’t help that the story feels stale. You’ll encounter a been-there, done-that feel, as matters never find a way to develop their own identity.

Even with the semi-gimmick of the female POV, Kitchen just comes across as another generic gangster movie. We find no style or panache or flair to enliven proceedings, so the film plods as it pursues various story points.

Kitchen does come with a good cast, and it’s interesting to see comedic stars McCarthy and Haddish branch out into more serious fare. Of course, McCarthy isn’t new to drama – heck, she earned an Oscar nomination for 2018’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? - but this is still a part outside of her wheelhouse, and Haddish is brand-new to non-comedic fare.

Neither does especially well. McCarthy looks more like a harried housewife than someone worried about her survival, and Haddish tends to overact like she wants Ruby to be the black answer to Tony Montana.

All of this leads toward a disappointment, as Kitchen came with the potential to deliver an exciting crime drama. Instead, it feels stuck in neutral, as it embraces clichés without anything new to say.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus D+

The Kitchen appears in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The transfer lived up to expectations.

Overall sharpness appeared good. A little softness crept into the occasional interior, but those instances stayed modest.

The movie usually seemed solid, and I noticed no shimmering or jagged edges. Edge haloes and print flaws remained absent.

Despite the movie’s period setting, it opted for a heavy orange and teal orientation that felt typical for 2010s movies. Because they went to an extreme, the colors could become almost comical, but the disc reproduced them as intended.

Blacks appeared dark and deep, and shadows showed good delineation. Low-light shots offered nice clarity. In the end, I felt pleased with this appealing presentation.

As for the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it added a bit of zip to the proceedings. A fairly chatty affair, the mix lacked a ton of zing, but it blasted music from all the channels and let the effects fill the spectrum.

A few violent scenes used the soundscape to the most impactful degree. These moments occurred infrequently, though, so street atmosphere became the most consistent element, and those moments created a satisfying sense of place and setting.

Audio quality worked well. Speech was concise and natural, while music – which mixed score and period songs – boasted fine range and vivacity.

Effects gave us accurate, dynamic elements without distortion. Though not an especially ambitious track, the movie’s mix seemed more than acceptable.

Only a few extras appear here, and Running Hell’s Kitchen fills nine minutes, one second with notes from writer/director Andrea Berloff, producer Michael De Luca, graphic novel writer Ollie Masters, graphic novel illustrator Ming Doyle, production designer Shane Valentino, costume designer Sarah Edwards, and actors Melissa McCarthy, Brian d’Arcy James, Elisabeth Moss, Domnhall Gleeson, Tiffany Haddish, Common, and James Badge Dale.

“Running” examines the source and its adaptation, story, characters and themes, the depiction of violence and visual design, the movie’s crew, cast and performances, costume/production design and period details, sets and locations. Though we get a few insights, much of the reel feels fairly superficial.

Taking Over the Neighborhood lasts five minutes, 22 seconds and features Berloff, Haddish, McCarthy, Moss, Common, Dale, James, Edwards, Valentino, Masters, De Luca, Doyle, and producer Marcus Viscidi.

“Over” looks at shooting in New York as well as reflections on the setting circa the late 1970s and the movie’s representations of these. It becomes another competent but thin featurette.

One Deleted Scene spans one minute, 25 seconds and shows a scene between Ruby and Kevin after his return to the community. It reminds us of tensions between the two, but we already sense their estrangement, so it seems redundant.

The disc opens with ads for Shaft (2019) and Joker. No trailer for Kitchen appears here.

A gangster flick with a heavy Scorsese influence, The Kitchen fails to discover its own identity. Despite a good cast and a feminist twist, the film never becomes more than a collection of clichés. The Blu-ray boasts very good picture and audio along with minor bonus materials. Kitchen comes with potential but disappoints.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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