Plot: An annual cooking competition always brings out the best in the field, but this year’s event promises to be the most hotly contested to date. That is because in addition to the usual spoils of victory, this year’s winner will take home a check for one million dollars. As you can imagine, this sizable prize has attracted all kinds of cooks and chefs, all determined to be crowned the triumphant champion. This includes an unstable woman who seems on the verge of a nervous breakdown, two sisters with deep issues to work out, a husband posing as a cook since his wife is ineligible, a mom trying to be the first black winner ever, a dysfunctional mother and daughter, and numerous other hopefuls, all seeking the ultimate prize. But when the steam settles and the food is tasted, who will win this prestigious cook off?
Entertainment Value: This movie was made in 2007, then shelved for an entire decade before it was finally released. That is never a good sign, but in truth, Cook Off isn’t as bad as that turn of events might suggest. The movie was obviously inspired by Christopher Guest’s improv driven pictures, with a large ensemble cast, loose plotting, and a rapid fire, in the moment style of dialogue. I do think a lot of the humor lands, but not on the same level as Guest’s work, as Cook Off might offer some chuckles, but doesn’t create hilarious, memorable characters. So a line here and there earns a laugh, but you don’t remember it minutes later and when the movie ends, it wasn’t bad, but there’s no desire to revisit it. That is not to say Cook Off is a bad movie, it is just a middle of the road comedy that doesn’t get the most out of the talent involved. Perhaps a few less threads and a tighter focus might have helped, as no one seems to get enough time to build a real character, just colorful personas. But some of the writing works and the cast is rather impressive, to be sure. So if you’re in the mood for a new comedy, Cook Off is a solid choice, just keep your expectations in check.
No nakedness. There is a humorous, awkward scene that involves peddling sex toys, but no sexual content is involved in this one. No blood. This is a light, brisk comedy with no violence, so of course there’s no blood or guts to be found. The dialogue here is super rapid fire and has an improv feel, so a lot of the lines are humorous in the moment, but don’t stick with you. I do think the movie is funny and the dialogue is the main reason it works as well as it does, as the banter between characters and seemingly random lines are fun. But I do wish more of the humor was character driven instead of awkward or random in nature lines, as a little substance would have helped here. The movie earns a few points there, as there are some really funny lines here and some quirky, awkward, and dysfunctional moments. The zany tone and random/improv elements rack up a point, but otherwise, this sticks to the usual comic guidelines. So it is a little wacky at times, but never off the rails type of stuff.
Overall Insanity: 1/10