- Running time:
- 99 minutes
- Adam Bousdoukos -
- Zinos Kazantsakis
- Moritz Bleibtreu -
- Illias Kazantsakis
- Birol Ünel -
- Shayn Weiss
- Lukas Gregorowicz -
- Dorka Gryllus -
- Anna Mondstein
Restaurant owner Zinos (Adam Bousdoukos) has a lot on his plate. His delinquent brother is fresh out of jail and hits him up for a job. His girlfriend ditches him and hightails it to China. And his eternally empty restaurant, Soul Kitchen, is anything but a cash cow. When a new chef comes in to spice up the menu, business booms and things start looking good. As he tries to patch up his personal life, Zinos entrusts the restaurant's operations to his felon bro, Illias (Moritz Bleibtreu)—not the smartest idea.
The buzz: Food films never seem to lose their appeal, no matter how many different ways they’re served. Lace it with family hijinks and you've got "Big Night." Heat up the passion and you've got "Like Water for Chocolate." Since last year's "Julie & Julia" reignited moviegoers' desire for all things epicurean, "Soul Kitchen" shouldn't be such a hard sell now, should it?
The verdict: This dish isn’t appetizing enough. Writer-director Fatih Akin ("Head-On") overseasons "Soul Kitchen" with so much forced comedy and recycled humor that it congeals into a mush of a movie. There's a recurring joke about Zinos having a bad back, and Akin’s refusal to stop milking it for yuks means you're groaning, not laughing. Bousdoukos' characterization of Zinos becomes so outsize (wide eyes! hyper dialogue! physical comedy!) that it veers toward caricature. It’s easy to see what Akin was going for: an endearing family farce in which a restaurant serves as both a bond and breaking point. But the antics grow tiresome—the actors try too hard—that they ultimately become distracting. The real fun in this movie lies in its trippy soul-funk soundtrack (Kool & the Gang, Quincy Jones), and deliciously gratuitous images of food being prepped, cooked and served. Then again, if cooking imagery is all you’re after, there’s always Food Network.
Did you know? Researching the character of Zinos was a breeze for Bousdoukos. The actor is a real-life restaurateur, and up until 2009 he owned a tavern in Hamburg, which became Akin's inspiration for "Soul Kitchen."
Movie theaters and showtimes for Soul Kitchen in Louisville.
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