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Nerdlocker Movie Review: Burnt

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Let me start this off by admitting that I’m a total sucker for culinary movies, documentaries, and television shows. Not sure why, as I’m a super-picky eater, but the combination of sumptuous food imagery and eccentric chefs in fancy gourmet kitchen/restaurant enironments does it for me. Throw in a predictable romantic subplot and some kind of rivalry, and you’ve got the recipe for the modern-day foodie movie. Many of them are similar, but I eat ’em up and usually enjoy them regardless of their predictability. Some of my favorite narrative food movies are Big Night, Mostly Martha, Ratatouille, Soul Kitchen, Tampopo, Eat Drink, Man Woman, Chef, and Babette’s Feast.

So how does Burnt, the latest cinematic culinary creation measure up? Well, it’s nowhere near as good as any of the films mentioned above, and it definitely has issues, but (surprise, surprise) I still found it mostly enjoyable. Like the fast food cheeseburger Bradley Cooper eats in the movie, it’s processed junk that contains no nutrients; a guilty pleasure forgotten upon digestion.

Burnt starts off like a heist movie. Upon shucking his one-millionth oyster, talented but problematic chef Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) emerges from a self-imposed three year hiatus and sets his sights on acquiring a third Michelin star– the elusive, coveted, top honor of the culinary world. Despite a spectacular meltdown in France on his previous restaurant venture, Jones manages to con his way back into a fancy kitchen and assemble a team of chefs to do his bidding.

The supporting characters are garnish, there merely to accompany Jones and push the story along. Most of them have no depth or personality and it’s unfortunate to see talented actors like Daniel Brühl and Omar Sy marginalized. Bradley Cooper plays an unlikable character likable enough, but lacks chemistry with Sienna Miller. The story’s conflict of Jones owing some tough guys money feels tacked on, added to give the movie some dramatic weight other than whether he will or won’t get the third star. *SPOILER ALERT* It’s especially annoying because another character offers to pay the debt and the totally predictable outcome is entirely avoidable in the first place. Then, an ex-girlfriend swoops in and settles his debt and poof! the problem is gone. The whole thing is silly and Cooper’s character has no arc.

Damn, I didn’t dislike this movie as much upon viewing it, but I knew that it would fall apart upon examination. It got by on the colorful imagery of sumptuous food, like succulent shrimp, flowing egg yolk, chocolate desserts, and beautiful veggies. Don’t make the mistake of seeing this on an empty stomach; most scenes include somebody cooking something appetizing. I ate before the movie and was compelled to eat again immediately afterwards.

2.5 out of 5 Nerdskulls.

0 Michelin Stars.

For more on Michelin Guides and the restaurants and chefs that have earned stars, check out the documentaries Three Stars and Michelin Stars- The Madness of Perfection.

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Salty Winters once said, "Everything I learned I learned from the movies." He was quoting Audrey Hepburn.