I didn’t catch THE KITCHEN when it was in theaters. Its marketing was a bit flat, promoting a flat storyline that felt all too familiar. Trailers utilized the feminist aspect by casting actresses playing against stereotypes and allowing audiences to make comparisons to a genre that’s run by men. I’m all for female-driven cinema and am usually attracted to it immediately, but this felt like a gimmick without flavor. When a copy landed in my lap, I wasn’t too excited to dive in. That said, I was pleasantly surprised by how drawn in I was to this movie and it’s thanks to the three amazing actresses who carry it.
There’s Kathy (Melissa McCarthy) and her kind, but dopey husband. Ruby (Tiffany Haddish) is an African American who married into the Irish mob. Claire (Elisabeth Moss) lives day to day scared, not by the mob, but the husband who beats her. All their husbands end up getting busted and serving sentences in prison. While all the women are considered family in the mob, the compensation for being loving wives is not enough to cover their expenses. Quickly, the women learn that they need to take care of themselves and get involved in the business behind the mob’s back. Their business methods end up benefiting the community by providing work to residents of Hell’s Kitchen and even creating an alliance with the Italian mafia. Of course, there’s some backlash and they learn they have to start protecting themselves as well.
McCarthy has already proven herself to be a force to be reckoned with. She’s already a comedy staple but has also been praised for her dramatic performances including her Golden Globe-nominated turn in Can You Ever Forgive Me?. Moss has been in the game for quite a while but is drawing plenty of attention for her stellar work in The Handmaid’s Tale for Hulu. Haddish is a bit newer to mainstream audiences, primarily known her comedic roles ever since her breakout role in Girls Trip, but gives us a taste here of what a tough boss she can be. Not going to lie, she scared the hell out of me in some scenes in THE KITCHEN as her character has plenty of resentment towards the Irish mob and reason to kill. All three stand their ground which is what makes this movie work. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the screen as each had their own journey as well as the one they follow together. Each character could easily have their own spin-off and I’d be first in line to watch all three.
THE KITCHEN didn’t fare well in theaters, critically or financially, but it can find its audience at home and by word of mouth. While set in the late seventies, the ongoing themes are still relevant and all three leads provide some form of inspiration to stand up for themselves and those they love. It’s not all about the money, but also their pride in building their own business and being able to hold their own with others looking at them with respect. I’m not big into mafia movies, but THE KITCHEN grabs you by the balls and never let’s go. THE KITCHEN is now available to own Blu-ray as well as Digital.