The Stream: Starts pretty slow and the horror elements seem pretty random
The Big Screen: Fierce performances by Ralph Fiennes and Anya Taylor-Joy
The Final Bill: An interesting and funny depiction of food culture that goes off the rails– Trip Fonatine
Director: Mark Mylod
Writers: Seth Reiss & Will Tracy
Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Hoult, Hong Chau, John Leguizamo, Janet McTeer
Genre: Comedy, Thriller
Rating: R for strong/disturbing violent content, language throughout and some sexual references
Runtime: 1 hour 40 minutes
Production Companies: Alienworx Productions, Hyperobject Industries
Platform: In theaters November 18, 2022
Notable Trailers: White Noise, Plane, Magic Mike’s Last Dance, Spoiler Alert, Empire of Light, Chevalier
Bon appetit, Streamers! You never know when your next meal may be your last. Well, here we are a few days before the Thanksgiving meal in the U.S. feasting on some satirical and thrilling cinematic entertainment in The Menu. After watching this movie, you may think more critically about what and where you are eating. I ventured to the movie theater to enjoy what was promised to be a chilling dining experience. Here’s whether I was satisfied.
The Menu has a simple plot that is overflowing with complicated themes and motivations. A group of wealthy patrons travel to an exclusive restaurant, Hawthorne, which is owned by renown chef, Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes), to have a coveted dining experience. Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) has invited a new girlfriend Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) to accompany him to enjoy what he believes will be a transcendent meal. Tyler is a “foodie” with a sophisticated palette, a deep admiration for Slowik, and a penchant for taking pics of his dishes. Margot is not as impressed with it all. The remainder of the guests are varying degrees of insufferable, and Julian barely contains his disgust for them despite his desire to deliver a memorable meal. Of course, things take a shocking turn. Lip smacking hijinks ensue.
The Menu is an experience, indeed. The movie promises shocking moments, and it delivers. The movie promises dark comedy, and I believe it checks that box as well. Although the plot is pretty slow to get started, once the group sits down for dinner and dishes gets served, the creeps and the giggles kick into high gear. The biggest issue – without spoiling anything – is that there isn’t a great explanation for why what is happening happens. While the guests are hilariously insufferable, some of the things that occur are random and therefore a little unsatisfying.
What is definitely satisfying are the performances by Ralph Fiennes and Anya Taylor-Joy. Fiennes fills his role as controlling and brilliant chef quite well. He’s menacing like Voldemort, but he is also eerily funny. Anya Taylor-Joy, who is great in basically everything she’s in, is a bright light here. She’s cunning and easily goes toe-to-toe with Fiennes. I’ll also shout out Nicholas Hoult as he has one of the other characters with a distinct and identifiable personality. The rest of the cast are generally caricatures of terrible people, but they don’t particularly standout.
Ultimately, Streamers, The Menu delivers a tasty dish. It has fresh bite with a tangy twist, spiced up by great performances of Fiennes and Taylor-Joy. Although some plot details feel random and characters aren’t especially detailed, the overall experience is thrilling enough to satisfy. While I’m not over the top about the movie, it is worthwhile for a matinee trip to the theater, so grab a bowl of popcorn. Be careful with whatever else you decide to order.