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Film / No Reservations (2007)

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"I wish there was a cookbook for life, you know? With recipes telling us exactly what to do."

No Reservations is a 2007 American romantic dramedy directed by Scott Hicks that has a top chef (Catherine Zeta-Jones) taking in her niece (Abigail Breslin) after her sister's (Arija Bareikis) death, while she deals with a new chef (Aaron Eckhart). It is an American remake of the German film Mostly Martha.

The movie also stars Patricia Clarkson, Jenny Wade, Bob Balaban, Brian FO Bryne, John Mc Martin, Celia Weston, Zoë Kravitz, among others.

It was released on July 27, 2007, and is unrelated to Anthony Bourdain's identically-named series.

Tropes featured in No Reservations include:

  • Childish Pillow Fight: When Zoe and Kate are playing Monopoly and Kate gets a pretty good roll, Zoe frustratedly beans her with a pillow. Cue Kate retaliating, and a montage of them engaging in a pillow fight across the apartment.
    Kate: You know what this means, right?
    Zoe: What?
    Kate: WAR! (smacks her with a pillow)
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Kate goes from a bossy, emotionally detached workaholic, to a loving, motherly Parental Substitute who's more open about her crush on Nick.
  • Disappeared Dad: Zoe's father is not in the picture and Kate mentions not knowing his name.
  • Downer Beginning: The film begins with Zoe's mother dying in a automotive wreck, and having to live with her emotionally-detached aunt.
  • Establishing Character Moment: In Nick's very first scene in the kitchen, he's joyously singing his heart out to Pavarotti, establishing himself as a more fun-loving and free-spirited chef than the ice-in-her-veins Kate.
  • Feed by Example: When Nick takes a break in the kitchen to whip up a plate of spaghetti, he takes a few forkfuls for himself while sitting next to Zoe. When he's called back into work, he then hands the bowl off to Zoe, who, after a moment, starts scarfing it down.
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Zoe has dozens of plushies strewn about her room, and one of the first scenes of her having moved in with Kate has her carrying a giant plush giraffe into the apartment.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: When the movie was coming out to theaters, there were two trailers for it. One hyped up the "romantic comedy" angle, leaving the plot of Kate having to care for her newly orphaned niece completely out, as if she didn't exist; another trailer, oddly enough usually shown much later at night, mostly did the reverse, focusing on the niece and including only a few shots of her tension with Nick as if he were just a minor complication to the whole thing. For the DVD, the trailers used are for the "all romantic comedy" version, and the other side has been completely omitted.
  • Nice Guy: Nick lifts the spirits of all the other chefs whenever he's in the kitchen, and he approaches adults and children with the same casual friendliness.
  • No Antagonist: Unlike many a rom-com, there's nobody in the film who's a total jerk, and the only real antagonist is Kate's closed-off nature which slowly goes away over the course of the film.
  • Parents as People: Kate begins the film as a highly flawed Parental Substitute, one part of which is being late to getting Zoe to and from school.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Kate badly misphrases her insistence that Zoe must no longer come to 22 Bleecker with her, for fear of Child Protective Services taking her away out of not wanting an adult to put a child to work, and Zoe believes that Kate doesn't just not want her at the restaurant, but never wanted her in the first place.
  • Real Men Cook: Nick's expertise as a chef is played up as intertwining with his becoming a caring father figure to Zoe.
  • Rom Com Job: He's a chef, she's also a chef.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Like Mario Batali, Nick wears tangerine-orange Crocs in the kitchen.
    • When Kate first returns to her apartment after adopting Zoe, she sees that her niece fell asleep to an episode of Seinfeld.
  • Supreme Chef: Kate's culinary mastery is such that she wows her own therapist with her food, who initially wanted her to have more things in her life than cooking and cooking alone.
  • Tablecloth Yank: Near the tail end of the film, Kate pulls this on a particularly ornery customer after slamming a raw steak on his table.
  • Terrible Interviewees Montage: When Kate is trying to replace Nick at 22 Bleecker, there's a montage of many hopeless applicants who try poorly to mask their unfitness for the job.