Significant others beware

By Gus Bode

“No Reservations”

Rated: PG

Starring: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, Abigail Breslin, Patricia Clarkson, Jenny Wade


Directed by Scott Hicks

Runtime: 103 min.

There comes a time in almost everyone’s life when their beloved will ask them to see a hackneyed, run-of-the-mill, slightly teary but always ridiculous romance movie.

If the love of your life asks you to see “No Reservations,” however, get out of your relationship now. There are plenty of fish in the sea, and you’ll avoid seeing one of the lamest romance movies this side of “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.”

The yawn-worthy, predictable plot begins by introducing Kate (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a hard-nosed, New York chef with an attitude. As she strives to become the best cook and run the kitchen her way, she gets news her sister has died in a car accident and she is now responsible for her sister’s daughter Zoe (Abigail Breslin).

Zoe is a precocious, sweet, young child who occasionally has a bratty fit of mourning just around the time Kate seems to be getting her lackluster parenting skills together, over her trust issues and falling in love with her co-worker Nick, played by Aaron Eckhart, who is surprisingly suited to be a romantic lead.

Unfortunately, Eckhart’s quirky character of Nick, who wears pajama pants at work and is exceptionally good with children, goes nowhere that any character ever played by Hugh Grant hasn’t already been.


As the scorned love interest of a career-driven woman, his rugged handsomeness is all too often left to concentrate on his flaws, rather than Kate’s, who consistently stomps his heart into the ground whenever she gets a chance or feels a little too vulnerable.

The biggest calamity of this film is the story. The cast is stellar and should be capable of creating something other than this bleary tripe that was based on a German movie released in 2001 titled “Mostly Martha.” A plea to Hollywood to stop remaking perfectly good foreign films into failures for American audiences is probably suitable here.

Jones is wonderfully sympathetic as Kate, a character whose personal life is spinning out of control due to the addition of a child and a loss of a sister.

It’s unfortunate that at best the script allows her character about five seconds of mourning time huddled in her workplace’s freezer weeping. Then it’s on to being a horrible parental figure for her niece, leaving the young girl home alone whenever she has to run to work or hiring a babysitter who looks vaguely like musicians Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie’s love child, if such a thing were possible.

Breslin shows off her acting skills as well as an oft-weepy orphan that an audience can’t help but feel a warm place in their heart. In scenes where she is left alone in Kate’s apartment due to a bad choice in babysitters, Zoe gathers all of her stuffed animals under her bed and tells them if they get scared they can wake her up to hold her hand. The tender portrayal of a character that is obviously stricken with sadness at the loss of her mother and the adjustment to a new home in the big city shows Breslin has acting skills far beyond her age of 11.

Unfortunately, the plot for this food-centered love story and family bonding moment is about as bland as grade school cafeteria mystery meatloaf. Those considering seeing “No Reservations” should probably just get the check early and call it a night.

Daily Egyptian writer Alicia Wade can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 275 or [email protected].