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Film / What's Cooking?

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"Thanksgiving. A celebration of food, tradition and relative insanity."

What's Cooking? is a 2000 American comedy-drama film directed by Gurinder Chadha, starring Joan Chen, Julianna Margulies, Mercedes Ruehl, Kyra Sedgwick, and Alfre Woodard.

Set against the backdrop of the Fairfax District of Los Angeles, four families of different ethnic cultures (one Jewish, one Vietnamese, one Latino and one African-American) celebrate Thanksgiving complete with family secrets and dysfunction while trying to find peace and harmony.

This movie contains the following tropes:

  • All for Nothing: Rachel's elderly relatives don't actually seem to give a shit about her being gay (or that her sperm donor is her gay brother-in-law). They seem more confused about how the sperm donation process works and if Jerry still counts as the dad, meaning Rachel's parents put that pressure on Rachel and Carla for nothing.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Rachel prepares to tell her family something that's been on her mind a lot, and her parents assume she's telling their relatives she's gay and Carla's her girlfriend. She instead tells everyone she's pregnant, which causes her father to blurt out her lesbianism wondering how she could possibly be pregnant. Turns out she got a sperm donation from her brother-in-law.
  • Coming-Out Story: Rachel tells her parents that she's a lesbian and brings her girlfriend Carla over to Thanksgiving and wants to move in with her.
  • Dark Secret: There are plenty of them: Rachel is gay and she's also pregnant; Elizbeth and her husband Javier are separated after Javier had slept with her cousin and she's dating a white co-worker and her daughter Sofia is dating a non-Latino.
  • Dysfunctional Family/Family Disunion: All four of them.
    • Seelig, the Jewish family, are dealing with the fact that their daughter's coming-out as a lesbian and their relatives dropping in without an invite.
    • Nguyen, the Vietnamese family, had found out about their son's expulsion and their daughter having extramarital sex. Also, Culture Clash is at play with the family divided over the meal being Vietnamese along with their failed attempt at cooking the Turkey in such cuisine.
    • Avila, the Latino family, had a tense family reunion with Elizabeth's ex-husband who came over with a grudge along with Sofia's new non-Latino boyfriend being invited to the party.
    • Williams, the African-American family, focuses on Audrey's not only having to cook but also having to please her husband and mother-in-law who are seeing her cooking skills. Her son, Michael, also had low opinions on her.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Audrey's mother-in-law acts like this during her time in the Williams house, like complaining about the turkey being pink and insisting on making macaroni and cheese. She immediately changes her tune when she learns her son was having an affair, believing Audrey one hundred percent and calling her son out for such a dick move.
  • Thanksgiving Day Story