Tony's Take

THE KITCHEN review

It’s the Girls Turn to Run the Show!

Based in the late 1970’s in Hell’s Kitchen, New York, “The Kitchen” follows a trio of women whose husbands are involved with the Irish mafia.  After their three husbands get caught and sent to prison for three years, Kathy (Melissa McCarty), Ruby (Tiffany Haddish), and Claire (Elizabeth Walsh) learn the hard truth that no one is going to take care of them.  Backed-up against a wall, the girls take matters into their own hands and start collecting from the holdouts of Hell’s Kitchen; in-exchange for protection and services whenever an issue arises.  As their business builds, the girls begin making a ton of money; however they start rattling neighbors from across the way and digging themselves in a much deeper hole.  As their foothold strengthens, they have to adjust themselves to murder, dismemberment, and violence in-order survive.  Just when things are rolling well, the Italian mafia begins to want a piece of the Irish pie as well; leaving the girls in a precarious, dangerous situation.

When I first saw the marketing for “The Kitchen”, I will admit I was a bit confused.  The leading ladies are known (besides Moss) for their comedy skills, but the trailer showed more of a balance of drama and comedy.  Well, make no mistake, the film is very DARK. There are glimpse of humor, but the story is unforgiving and relentlessly-violent.  The film is filled death, as is often associated with the mob, but it almost feels natural and expected as the plot rolls along.  Holding the film together is McCarthy, Haddish, and Moss.  Fresh off her stunning turn in last year’s “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”, she proves once again that dark and serious is another strength of hers.  Haddish and Moss are strong as well, but McCarthy is clearly in charge.  “The Kitchen” also boasts a strong, extensive cast including: Domhnall Gleeson, James Badge Dale, Brian d’Arcy James, Margo Martindale, Bill Camp, and Common as well.

The tone of the film feels very similar to “Goodfellas”, not that they’re of the same quality but the way they showcase the commonness of violence, death, and the repercussions that come with mafia life.  At times, “The Kitchen” feels very heavy but it just seems to lack that “punch” that’s needed to elevate the film.  There is quite a bit going on and a large number of characters shown throughout the film and it feels rushed due to its short 102 minute run time.  The film flows smoothly, but some of the heaviness is lacking due to its quickened nature.  “The Kitchen” is by no means a groundbreaking film, nor will it be making any Top 10 lists at the end of the year, but it’s a fun (fun?) film of female empowerment and there is enough layered-storytelling there to entertain the audience.

“The Kitchen” is your average, run-of-the-mill crime drama featuring the women fed-up and in charge.  The film is by no means a “bad movie” as long as you go in expecting a mafia drama led by a trio of wives.  There are far worse choices at your local theater, but McCarty’s turn is worth the price of admission if this one intrigues you.  Otherwise, it shouldn’t be too long until it’s on some streaming platform.

 3/5

THE KITCHEN is rated R for violence, language throughout and some sexual content, in theaters AUGUST 9TH!