Amateur “chefs” from around the country compete for a million dollar prize in the ultimate food fight.
“Cook Off!” was actually made in 2007 but supposedly, for reasons unknown, it was shelved for ten years until Lionsgate decided to re-edit the film and release it on home entertainment. It’s actually pretty easy to see why it was shelved for so long because the movie is so bad. Melissa McCarthy graces the cover of the Blu-ray yet in 2007, she was nowhere near to being the big star she is today. The film tries so hard to follow in Christopher Guest’s cinematic footsteps as it tries to achieve “mockumentary” greatness but fails on every level. For a “real” mockumentary, watch any of Guest’s features, including “Waiting for Guffman,” “Best in Show,” and “A Mighty Wind.”
“Cook Off!” follows a group of quirky characters from across the U.S. as they aspire to become the next big chef in a renowned cooking contest. As we are introduced to each character, we soon realize that the film is trying to spoonfeed us into believing that the next character we meet, and the one after that, is crazier than the ones we’ve just met. This angle gets old pretty quick and while the movie has a few moments, essentially, it just feels all over the place, and with two directors at the helm, it becomes apparent why. Not to say that having more than one director can ruin a film, on the contrary, the Coen Brothers, the Wachowskis, Jay & Mark Duplass, and Albert & Allen Hughes have proved otherwise but in the case of “Cook Off!,” we can see that directors Cathryn Michon and Guy Shalem obviously couldn’t settle on a clear narrative structure for how the story should be told and the result is the ensuing mess.
Melissa McCarthy is probably the movie’s saving grace but at times even she becomes annoying. “Cook Off!” tries so hard to be something it is not and you find yourself feeling embarrassed just watching everything unfold onscreen. There’s a very good reason the movie was shelved for ten years, maybe next time, Lionsgate should let actually let the chips fall where they may and not take a chance!
Now available on Blu-ray & DVD