Monday With Mildred: “The Kitchen”

The Kitchen

The Kitchen movie poster

Hell’s Kitchen in the late 1970s, where Melissa McCarthy proves again that she’s a heck of an actress, and she’s in great company in this film. While watching the movie I was really taken with the whole package. It’s gritty and will have you on the edge of your seat a few times, and it’s easy to root for some of the characters, despite their…issues.

Three thugs, who would undoubtedly upgrade their title to gangster for no good reason, leave their significant others to do a job. Two of them treat their wives like punching bags, and the other is sweet and loving. They’re caught, go to jail, and the wives find themselves needing to pick up the slack in the family business to get along, though they have no previous experience. If it sounds a lot like the movie Widows, I heard the same sound. This time around it’s not upscale Chicago gangster wives, but low life extortionists.

Melissa McCarthy (Spy, Happytime Murders) is Kathy, the good girl and the heart of the small group of wives. Tiffany Haddish (ight School, Kids Say the Darndest Things) is Ruby, who understands the mean streets the best and ends up being the brains. Like one of the characters in Widows, Elizabeth Moss (Us, The Handmaid’s Tale) has the character arc involving growing from a human punching bag to something a whole lot more. I especially love the surprisingly sweet romance she finds herself in. Margo Martindale (Justified) is at her scary best. I had no idea it’s based on a DC comic book, though that does explain a lot about the broodingly existential plot.

The cars and buildings and general art direction is a lot of fun and nostalgic, but I had a real problem with wardrobe. Everyone was wearing appropriate prints and fibers, but I kept noticing how everything fit. One of the things I remember most firmly about the 70s is how nothing fit. On anyone. There were culturally appropriate threats, and a super backhanded snarky Trump joke that made me laugh. Most notably, the music wowed me several times. Heart’s Barracuda has finally been used well in a film, and they used about a third of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors, and every time a tune would start I would laugh a little. My favorite is Gold Dust Woman. They didn’t play the words, but I heard “take your silver spoon and dig your grave” in my head.

While watching I was having a great time, and the musical keynotes were great, but there were some weak spots in the plot that made me think twice about just how great the movie is. I still think it’s definitely worth a viewing, especially if you like films set in Hell’s Kitchen in the 70s, or gritty gangster movies featuring plucky wives.

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