As unamusing and amateurish as comedies come, Luca Miniero’s A Boss in the Kitchen would normally be doomed to a direct-to-video release if it weren’t for the need to pad out a film festival line-up. Audiences are best served avoiding this clichéd and deeply unfunny film.
Reviewed by Drew Ninnis.
Director: Luca Miniero
Screenplay: Luca Miniero
Runtime: 90 minutes.
Cast: Paola Cortellesi, Rocco Papaleo, Luca Argentero, Angela Finocchiaro.
Trailer: I dunno, some stuff.
Plot: The Coso family live a quiet and perfect life in the Tyrol mountains in northern Italy, with father Michele working for the town’s local magnate and attempting to climb the company ladder, and wife Carmela intensely focused on her children and the social status of their family. All of this is disrupted with the arrival of Carmela’s brother Ciro; a proported southern mob boss and now the responsibility of the Coso family, as he awaits his trial on house arrest. Chaos ensues.
Festival Goers? Miss it.
Viewed as part of the Lavazza Italian Film Festival.
Review: With thirty-four new Italian films from 2013 and 2014 alone, the Lavazza Italian Film Festival was bound to have some filler rounding out an otherwise excellent festival program. Luca Miniero’s A Boss in the Kitchen is exactly that, meeting a level of quality and scripting that would make it lucky to see a bargain bin release at a service station under any other circumstances. Yet here we are, complete with a recommendation from a website or magazine called “Short and Easy” (after half an hour of googling, I couldn’t even confirm that the publication exists in any form) of ‘a remarkable cast.’ That is certainly diplomatically damning with faint praise; and to be honest, it accords more respect than this embarrassing effort deserves. The best course of action would be for audiences and cast members alike to enter into a gentleman’s agreement to disperse, go back to our everyday lives, and forget about the ninety plus minutes during which we were subjected to the film. Not quite a federal case or indictable offence, A Boss in the Kitchen is a terribly poor film.
It follows the deeply unfunny travails of the Coso family, naggingly whipped into submission by cartoonish matriarch Carmela. According to the common law of England and Wales, a ‘communis rixatrix’ or common scold could be sentenced to dunking by a cucking stool or fitted with a scold’s bridle – a punishment you’ll wish revived for the sole, sexist purpose of reigning in Carmella’s inane insanities during the course of this film. To complement this utterly clichéd and insulting trope we have poor husband Michele, who escapes the pressures of wife and job by playing with his model railway in the garage. Their poor children are unwitting observers to this parental drama which involves money problems, brown-nosing the local boss’ wife, much sport at northern Germanic habits, and many other absurdities.
Add to this formula the unsettling presence of Ciro – Carmela’s brother, and a suspected boss in the Camorra, the southern Italian Mafia. Placed under house arrest, but with nowhere to go, Ciro is billeted on Carmela and proceeds to disrupt their already neurotically tense existence with a series of southern Italian jokes and prejudices, as well as a healthy disregard for the local, pretentious community. What follows are the sustained abuse and death of a cat, many broken dishes, burps as punch lines, and characters changing their tune at the drop of the hat.
The performers do their best with what is obviously a mediocre and disjointed script, having to smile their way through a sudden climax where the family aren’t admitted to the opera and must turn to each other for acceptance in the face of being shunned by the local community. The film is padded out by the appearance of a local guest star and singer in an awkward segue to a musical number; and a tired old reference to The Godfather, wherein they attempt to locate a wild horse and put it in an antagonists’ bed (forgetting entirely that within The Godfather that made perfect sense, because it was impresario Jack Woltz’s beloved racehorse – not a generic Mafia reference). The film closes with not one but two red balloons floating over Napoli; in celebration of a city that made no other appearance during the length of the film.
The film also wears its limited budget on its sleeve, moving at a fast and sometimes insensible clip with terrible synth or midi music throughout and reusing the same paintings on different sets. In a celebratory lap, there’s even extra footage and the usual banal shtick over the credits.
In short, A Boss in the Kitchen is a film best missed.
Rating: Two stars.