January 2, 2010

Dinner Rush (2000)

I've had a dilemma recently: I don't seem to have enough time to sit down and watch a movie! Between work and a lot of side projects, I end up having to choose between sleep or goof-off time (sleep is always good!) Luckily, Christmas break remedied this problem a bit. On Christmas morning, as I ate breakfast at my family's house, waiting for the rest of the folks to make it down, my mother (remember her influence?) turned on the TV and switched to the Independent Film Channel, because her recent favorite movie was coming on: Dinner Rush!

Duncan wishes someone would lend him ten grand to give to the sharks.

She had simply fallen in love with the film, which centers on a single night inside a popular Italian restaurant in New York City. I figured I'd like it, but the invitation to watch it came abruptly. Right in the morning? I've got things to do! I put those thoughts away quickly, because Dinner Rush is totally captivating.

The film opens with a mob hit, setting up the viewer to expect a typical gangster drama. Nope. After the credits, we settle into a fancy restaurant, owned by Louis Cropa, a former bookmaker who now considers himself "a legit restaurateur." He wants to turn the business over to his son, but doesn't like the changes he's made to the cuisine: the old-school spaghetti and meatballs of his beloved Italy have been replaced with fancy dishes that appeal to the "artsy" crowd.

Louis talks traditional Italian cuisine with his son.

The "artsy crowd," however, is keeping the business thriving. As we watch throngs of people come in and sit for hours chatting and enjoying their meals, we kind of want to pull up a seat as well.

Waitresses and cooks work diligently while chatting; people sit at the bar and play trivia games with the charismatic bartender; and two greasy-haired gangsters come for dinner and demand a "sit down" with the owner.

Wait, what?

When the capos come to eat at your restaurant, you better treat them nicely.

Seems Louis's favorite cook, Duncan, the only one who will cook him a "traditional" Italian meal, has a gambling problem, and has gotten in deep with the mob.

Don't let this plot point tease you. The film is more about setting than story, and I love this. I'm a sucker for setting, and watching "Dinner Rush" is like sitting down in your favorite hangout and enjoying some people-watching.

Anybody who's ever worked in a restaurant is likely to identify with the characters, like the waitress who wants to strangle the annoying art critic at one of her tables; or the bustling cooks who are trying not to crack under the pressure of their boss; or the hostess, who, between needed cigarette breaks, has to put on a smiling face, no matter how unpleasant the guests are.

The bar is one of my favorite spots of the restaurant, probably because the bartender is cool as hell.

Louis's crisis does come to a satisfying resolution, but the true enjoyment comes from the ride, not the destination. Sit down and enjoy Dinner Rush with your own home-cooked meal and get ready for a high-class, leisurely evening.

Screencaptures provided by www.moviescreenshots.blogspot.com

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