Tortilla Soup
3 out of 5 stars
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the family that eats together... Ang Lee's Eat Drink Man Woman is faithfully adapted into Los Angeles' Mexican-American subculture in this enjoyable ensemble film. The solid story transfers almost exactly from Taiwan to the Latino subculture, spiced up with Mexican food and humour, even if the filmmaking itself is rather dull. It centres around the widower Martin (Elizondo) and his three daughters: sensible spinster schoolteacher Leticia (Pena), sexy independent businesswoman Carmen (Obradors) and free-spirited late teen Mari (Mello). Over the course of the film, everyone deals with romance on some level, while every Sunday Martin cooks outrageous meals that are usually interrupted by a major announcement.

Where Ang Lee's film is clever and insightful, this film is enjoyable and sweet. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it does feel thin and whispy, even as it deals with serious themes under the surface. Instead of an intuitive character comedy, this is really a four-way rom-com. The performances are all superb, and the food looks mouth-wateringly scrumptious (don't go on an empty stomach like I did!). Elizondo is especially good here, and it's nice to see him do something meatier than his usual comic roles in big Hollywood fluff (Pretty Woman, The Princess Diaries). And Welch is funny as a blowsy (!) family friend who sets her sights on Martin. Ripoll's direction is adequate in a slightly simplistic TV-movie style. This is a perfectly nice little movie, with a twisty plot that satisfies on several levels even if it never quite takes advantage of the opportunities.

cert PG themes, language 19.Jun.02

dir Maria Ripoll
scr Ramon Menendez, Tom Musca, Vera Blasi
with Hector Elizondo, Elizabeth Pena, Jacqueline Obradors, Tamara Mello, Raquel Welch, Paul Rodriguez, Nikolai Kinski, Constance Marie, Julio Oscar Mechoso, Joel Joan, Ken Marino, Marisabel Garcia
release US 24.Aug.01; UK 23.Aug.02
01/US 1h43

I propose a toast. The ever-expanding Naranjo family celebrates over far too much food...

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2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall