Romance On The Menu is Terribly Terrific

Can we just take a moment to appreciate the title Romance On The Menu? Iconic.

Last year I was bedridden with bronchitis, rhino virus and God knows what else, so I decided to use my time wisely by watching a bunch of films on Netflix and review them.

Now I’m bedridden with a dislocated coccyx so am unable to attend most of the physical activities and hobbies that occupy my time. With more time than usual on my hands, I’ve returned to my roots of reviewing Netflix films.

What’s on the menu today? Romance On The Menu!

I know right. I’m so funny I can’t even help it.

The attraction is alive and well. And I’m definitely referring to me and ol’ mate Cook here.

If the film title doesn’t give it away, Romance On The Menu is a romantic comedy recently released exclusively on Netflix. It stars Cindy Busby and Tim Ross as Caroline Wilson and Simon Cook respectively.

Let me just start by saying that if you’ve seen Falling Inn Love starring Christina Milian, then you’ve basically already seen this movie.

SPOILERS AHEAD. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Basically, this film follows the same plot as Falling Inn Love. Caroline, a chef at an upscale restaurant in New York, inherits a cafe from her late aunt in Australia. She decides to go over and fix up the place so she can sell it and return back to her life in New York.

Enter Simon Cook the handsome Australian cook (ba dum tsh). Like every romance movie ever, Simon and Caroline initially clash heads, but to the surprise of absolutely no one, they end up falling in love. There was also the classic ‘shirtless male lead scene for no apparent reason’ cliché in which Simon’s rig wasn’t overly impressive, but yolo because he’s cute anyway.

If you’ve read this far, then you basically know what happened in the rest of the movie. Caroline ends up not wanting to sell the cafe, her and Simon fall in love with each other, and then she ends up keeping the cafe but still wanting to retain her life in New York. And then ol’ mate Simon flies to New York and tells her how much he loves her and they kiss and fireworks spark off in the distance.

The end.

Now that that’s done. Let me tell you what I love about movies like Romance on the Menu. I’m well aware that if you choose to watch a cheesy romcom that looks like it belongs on the Hallmark channel that you shouldn’t expect a cinematic masterpiece. In saying that, I’ve never particularly enjoyed cinematic masterpieces, and the cheesier the romcom, the better!

You can tell just by looking at the movie promotional material what’s going to happen. You know that Caroline and Simon are going to end up falling in love before the movie has even started. The entire plot gives itself away after the first minutes of the movie. But that’s the thing with cheesy romance movies like this.

It’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey. And this journey was actually pretty entertaining. Like can we talk about how iconic the childish food fight scene was?

Let me tell you, I’m all for the casting of funny attractive Aussie actors in lead male roles in romance movies, and Tim Ross was amazing in his role. He and Cindy had fairly decent chemistry which is super important for a romcom because for me personally, I can see through faked chemistry very easily and it ruins my experience with the movie.

The hometown feel of the location is also very important for a film like this, and the supporting characters did give it quite a homely feel. The ‘meddling middle aged woman’ cliché in Marla did her role well (to the point that I found her genuinely irritating), and bless her for locking them in the pantry to provide us with the most iconic scene of the entire film.

Again, you can see the destination from a mile away, but when you watch movies like Romance on the Menu, let the journey take you down its path and enjoy it while you can.

P.S. Tim Ross, if you’re reading this… heeeeeyyyy.

– by The Black Widow

Review: What Nora Knew

I had no intentions on reading and writing a review on a Chick Lit novel. This is not necessarily because I dislike the genre in particular, but because most of them tend to be too predictable, stereotypical, idealistic, unrealistically perfect etc so I tend to avoid them – yes, I’m one of those annoyingly fastidious people who demands that a film or novel be realistic to some degree (depending on the genre, of course).  What Nora Knew by Linda Yellin was an exception. I tend to skim over the blurb and take a quick peek at the first page or so of any novel in order to decide whether it’s worth continuing with, and on doing so for this novel, I was immediately and mercilessly hooked.

whatnoraknew

What Nora Knew is about Molly Hallberg (a writer for an online newsmagazine) who, having been through a (long) string of unsuccessful relationships – one marriage included – has a somewhat jaded view on love.  Although she is in a steady relationship with her current boyfriend, Russell Edley, she is not a believer in the sort of flowery love that is generally characterized by plenty of passion, elaborate and romantic gestures, and excitement etc – the sort of love that many of the characters in the novel coincidentally have. Instead, she settles for a “comfortable” relationship with him, mainly due to the limiting factor of her age (late thirties), or so she feels. Somewhere along the way, she meets a certain Cameron Duncan (a famous author) who she progressively, unwillingly and inevitably falls for. From this, I’m sure even those of you who are not familiar with/not fans of Chick Lit novels can guess the ending without too much difficulty.

Despite the stereotypical plot, I was quite fond of this novel. For, Yellin’s abilities as an author are more than admirable; the voice of Molly is so internal, witty, sarcastic, sharp, funny, entertaining and likeable. I was constantly chuckling and more than that, she seems very real – indeed it is like she is a real person talking to you instead of for you and that, to me, is one of the marks of a great author. However, that was the best part of this novel. The drama, events and dialogue – albeit quite entertaining in some parts – was mostly just a little bit above average.  At certain times, I actually got a little bored because there wasn’t anything particularly enthralling and some parts were not very believable. But, it was Molly’s amusing and engaging voice that kept me reading right to the end.

One other redeeming factor of the novel that I have to mention is that Yellin readily highlights the fact that most love stories in Chick Lit novels and Rom-Coms are stereotypical and/or predictable, but that people still want to read on or keep watching anyway because they are “mesmerized by the journey”. She does this through the guise of certain characters and with references to some Rom-Coms (the title itself is in reference to Nora Ephron who is most notable for certain films such as When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle, for those of you who don’t know). It could just be me, but there is something rather comforting about the author acknowledging that what they’re writing about is stereotypical or clichéd and that they know that people still like to read it anyway to experience the “journey” – it makes them (or their writing, at least) seem more genuine.

Anyway, in short, this book was quite enjoyable but nothing to make you truly go WOW! The ending is very obvious (but then again, it was what Yellin intended), so I suppose some or most will do what she anticipates (as I did) – keep reading until the very end, not because they want to know who Molly ends up with etc, but because they want to experience the journey with her. This is most likely one of those books you might want to take along with you on a holiday (that is, if you like reading Chick Lit novels in the first place and/or if you like reading them when you’re away on  holiday). Even if there wasn’t anything especially riveting, the engaging and laughter-inducing voice of Molly herself would be enough to make most want to read this novel.

Solst-o-meter
Storyline: 6/10
Style of writing: 9/10
Overall: 7.5/10

– by Rosemary Nguyen