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Columns Eleanor Ringel Cater

‘The Menu’ – horror satire featuring a meal that serves more than food

A scene from "The Menu"

By Eleanor Ringel Cater

If you’ve ever wanted to slap a foodie silly, “The Menu” is the movie for you.

Ralph Fiennes (having a blast) stars as celebrated master chef Julian Slowik whose restaurant is so exclusive that it’s on a private island.  Each evening he serves only a dozen or so diners at $1,250 a pop.

His guests this particular evening include a star-struck foodie (Nicholas Hoult) and his last-minute date (Anya Taylor-Joy); a restaurant critic (Janet McTeer) and her obsequious editor; a fading movie star (John Leguizamo) and his assistant; some well-heeled regulars (Judith Light and Reed Birney); and a trio of self-important tech-bros. If the phrase “Eat the Rich” occurs to you, well, you’re on the right track, but not completely.

Movie poster for “The Menu”

The meticulously prepared meal offers such delicacies as a bread plate without bread and something in barely frozen sea water that, as Chef explains, “flavors the dish as it melts.” And the wine? Well, it’s not just from a single vineyard; it’s from a single row of grapes.

Yes, it’s that sort of evening.

But what begins as pure snobbery for the possibly impure palate slowly shifts into something more threatening. Also on the menu are infidelities, dirty financial dealings, mutilation and more.

As horror-satire goes, “The Menu” isn’t especially sophisticated. And true foodies can probably poke holes in every course. But in its own insistently odd way, the film is a good deal of palate-cleansing fun.

If you’ve ever been treated poorly at a high-end restaurant or wondered what all the fuss is about when a friend sends you photos of what they’re about to eat (or just ate) at a restaurant you could never afford, this could be, well, just the just dessert you desire.

Local Note: Chef’s restaurant is “located” on Jekyll Island….

“The Menu” is available for streaming on HBO Max and other platforms.

Eleanor Ringel

Eleanor Ringel, Movie Critic, was the film critic for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for almost 30 years. She was nominated multiple times for a Pulitzer Prize. She won the Best of Cox Critic, IMAGE Film & Video and Women In Film awards. An Atlanta native, she graduated from Westminster and Brown University. She was the critic on WXIA’s Noonday, a member of Entertainment Weekly's Critics Grid and wrote TV Guide’s movie/DVD. She is member of the National Society of Film Critics and currently talks about movies on WMLB and writes the Time Out column for the Atlanta Business Chronicle.


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