Sunday, March 26, 2023

REVIEW: The Menu (live action movie)

The Menu is a horror comedy. I bought my copy new.


A group of wealthy people pay somewhere between one and two grand for a dining experience at the Hawthorn, an exclusive island restaurant. For the duration of the meal, the guests can't leave the island - it's meant to be an experience in which they tour the grounds where the food is grown, caught, and prepared, before getting to eat each exquisitely crafted course.

As the evening goes on and the group is served increasingly odd courses, things take a very, very dark turn.

Ooh, this was good. It starts off mildly funny, as the group (except for Margo) tries to appreciate and enjoy things like the fancy bread plate that doesn't include bread (also known as the "unaccompanied accompaniments"). Only Margo, Tyler's dinner date, seems willing to say aloud that the chef is clearly insulting the diners with his various courses.

Then things get mildly uncomfortable before becoming downright horrific. It's at this point, though, that the humor also becomes even better - it's very, very dark, but made enjoyable by the fact that it all pokes fun at the powerful, the people who can afford to pay a couple grand for a single meal that barely consists of anything edible.

It's intense, riveting, and slick. The one problem, for some viewers, may be its believability. You somehow have to accept that an entire restaurant full of staff and diners would allow things to reach the point at which the movie ends. It worked for me overall, but I'm not entirely sure why. I suppose there was something hypnotic about the setup, Chef Slowik's magnetic control over the restaurant, and even his loud clap at the beginning of every course. There was something cult-like about it. Just about every potential way out was just another part of the show.

The ending manages to be equal parts horrific and ridiculous. The one thing I had an issue with: it's marshmallow, chocolate, graham cracker, not chocolate, marshmallow, graham cracker. You'd think a chef would know better, but then again maybe it was just another sign of Chef Slowik's disconnect from his humble origins.

All in all, I enjoyed this and expect that I'll be rewatching it at some point.

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