[Screen It]


(1999) (Sarah Michelle Gellar, Sean Patrick Flanery) (PG-13)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Mild None Mild None None
Mild None None Minor Mild
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Moderate None Minor Minor Minor

Romantic Comedy: A small-time chef and a successful businessman fall for each other after a sudden magical spell makes her emotion-laced cooking irresistible.
After seventy years in business, things don't look good for the Southern Cross restaurant. The previous owner is dead, and her successor, daughter Amanda Shelton (SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR), is a mundane cook. Thus, only a handful of faithful customers remain who are served by Amanda, Stella (BETTY BUCKLEY) the hostess, and Nolan Traynor (LARRY GILLIARD, JR.), the assistant chef.

A chance encounter with Gene O'Reilly (CHRISTOPHER DURANG), a mysterious but amiable man, however, suddenly gives Amanda magical help with her cooking. Now a culinary master, Amanda's dishes draw the attention of Tom Bartlett (SEAN PATRICK FLANERY), a successful businessman who, with the help of his assistant, Lois (PATRICIA CLARKSON), is opening a chichi restaurant for owner Jonathan Bendel (DYLAN BAKER).

As a relationship between Amanda and Tom begins to blossom while his associates fawn over her cooking, it's only a matter of time before he learns of her "secret ingrdient" just as he needs her help for his restaurant's opening night gala.

The popular and attractive leads (especially Sarah Michelle Gellar of TV's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") may draw in older preteens and teens.
For brief sexual references.
  • SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR plays a small restaurant owner who doesn't question her sudden magical abilities in the kitchen. She does cuss a little and begins a romance with Tom, but it's never clear how far it progresses physically.
  • SEAN PATRICK FLANERY plays a successful businessman who's a nice enough guy until he learns of Amanda's unintentional magic which causes him to shun her.
  • PATRICIA CLARKSON plays his assistant who has the hots for Jonathan.
  • LARRY GILLIARD, JR. plays Amanda's coworker and friend who's always trying to help her out.


    OUR TAKE: 0 out of 10
    On her hip TV show, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," Sarah Michelle Gellar plays a character who's determined to rid the world of those evil blood suckers who don't deserve to live. After seeing this film, most everyone will probably agree that it's too bad she wasn't present in that guise to drive a stake through the collective hearts of those responsible for giving this travesty the green light.

    A lame production that neither succeeds as a romantic nor magical comedy, this is one of those film that critics can't help but renaming to read something along the lines of "Extremely Resistible" or "Hardly Irresistible." With acting as stiff as a set of wooden culinary spoons, characters as lifeless and flat as spatulas, and a concept that fails to rise to the occasion, watching this film is about as much fun as eating a cold lump of dough that never attained its ultimate form.

    Stealing some of its cinematic recipe from the culinary art-house favorite, "Like Water For Chocolate," this disaster from veteran producer, but first-time director Mark Tarlov and novice screenwriter Judith Roberts simply take the notion of one's emotions being transferred to cooking and does nothing special nor imaginative with it.

    In fact, the magical properties presented herein including a briefly seen, but mysterious "fairy godfather and an obviously fake crab mascot (that to the filmmakers' only credit thankfully doesn't talk) are neither explained nor explored. In addition, the protagonist, Amanda, seems to accept what occurs as if she were playing the Samantha Stevens part on "Bewitched," but minus the charm or fun.

    It doesn't take more than a minute or so into this fiasco before the realization hits you --- like a stove-full of bricks -- that the film is really bad and the potential for anything associated with the word "good" to occur seems quite unlikely. The acting is insipid, the dialogue is awful, and the overall plot and pacing are horrible -- and that's just in the first few minutes. Unfortunately, it never gets any better.

    The film's humor consists of confusing Howard Hughes with Hugh Hefner, and saying "Crab Neopolitan" and "Crab Napalm" instead of "Crab Napoleon," and the chemistry and romance between the two leads is never anything more than artificial and forced. Featuring only one brief and entirely contrived obstacle to their love (can you guess if they overcome that?), the plot is torturously lethargic at best.

    Had the film at least been partly successful at being whimsical (or even campy), then it wouldn't be so bad. However, and despite what appears to be an attempt at evoking those innocent and goofy romantic comedies of the sixties that starred the likes of Doris Day and Cary Grant, the film doesn't even come close to that material and the result is nothing short of an uninspired mess.

    The acting is quite wooden and we use that term loosely and only because performers appear on the screen and spout dialogue (another loose term), and one can only guess about what motivated the performers to accept such weakly written parts.

    Both Gellar (of the previously mentioned "Vampire Slayer" fame) and Sean Patrick Flanery (of the former "Young Indiana Jones" TV series and subsequent TV movies) can't survive their unimaginatively drawn and vacuous characters, and the supporting performers are forced to play physically present, but even flimsier developed people.

    Although the film is attempting to play off the old notion that the fastest way to a man's heart is through his stomach, we can assure you that the fastest way to clear out a theater is to run this film through the projector. With the only positive note about Simply Irresistible" being that it could be used to reform criminals and other "wrongdoers" by repeatedly making them watch it ad infinitum until they plead to go straight, this unappetizing course of leftovers is destined for a quick plate scraping into the trash can. We give the film a 0 out of 10.

    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this PG-13 rated film. Profanity consists of 4 "s" words and an assortment of other words and religious phrases. Some relatively mild sexual or sexually related comments or discussions occur, as well as near erotic reactions to the taste of food. The possibility of implied sexual encounters is also present (in two scenes), but it's impossible to tell either way positively).

    Beyond that, some drinking, and a smattering of comically intended bad attitudes, the rest of the film's categories contain little or no in the way of other major objectionable material. As always, however, should you still be concerned with the appropriateness of this film, you may want to take a closer look at what's been listed.

  • We see some liquor bottles in the background of the restaurant's bar.
  • A patron has a beer with his lunch.
  • We see an automatic martini maker machine in action. Stella then offers a martini to Tom and his girlfriend. When they decline, Stella drinks it herself.
  • People have wine in Amanda's restaurant.
  • We see the martini machine running again and then see several people having martinis in the restaurant.
  • Amanda and Tom have wine.
  • People have wine and champagne at a restaurant's opening.
  • None.
  • Tom's girlfriend is a bit of a bitchy character to begin with, but after eating one of Amanda's magical meals, she suddenly blurts out her real feelings, and while dumping Tom, spreads food on his face, wipes her mouth on his tie, and throws some restaurant plates across the room, shattering them (all presumably played to be funny).
  • Tom lies to Amanda about having to go to a meeting (to get out of having dinner with her, although he later confesses to this), and later turns his back on her when he realizes that some sort of magic is occurring.
  • Some viewers concerned with magic/witchcraft may find parts of the film dealing with the "magical" food Amanda prepares as bothersome/worrisome.
  • A chef quits over not having the correct knives with which to work.
  • None.
  • None.
  • Phrases: "D*ckhead," "Chick" (for a woman), "Shut up," "Suck," "Nuts" (testicles), and "Idiot."
  • Under the spell of one of Amanda's meals, Tom's girlfriend smears food on his face, wipes hers on his tie, and then throws plates across the restaurant. She then belches (all presumably played to be funny).
  • A chef throws a knife across a room and into a wall (as well as stabbing others into furniture), and also spits on a knife, a restaurant model, and apparently did the same to Jonathan before entering the room.
  • None.
  • None.
  • A song mentions "sexual feeling" and then says "Take your time, think about it..."
  • At least 4 "s" words (1 in subtitles), 1 slang term using male genitals ("d*ckhead"), 5 hells, 2 asses (both used with "hole"), 1 damn, and 9 uses of "Oh God," 5 of "Oh my God," 3 of "God," 2 of "My God" and 1 use each of "G-damn," "Jesus" and "Oh Christ."
  • After Tom's girlfriend says that she was downloading stuff on his computer, Lois comments that she hopes she was using a condom. The girlfriend doesn't understand that comment, but it's quickly passed by.
  • Amanda shows a tiny bit of cleavage, as does Lois.
  • When Tom says that nobody can be perfect, his girlfriend looks down into her dress and says, "I am."
  • Lois says (about Jonathan), "It's his hands. They drive me wild. I want them all over me."
  • Amanda asks Nolan what guys are interested in (as a topic of conversation for her and Tom). He says sex, and she says that she can't talk about sex. He then says that the average man thinks about sex 238 times a day. She then asks if that's really true and Nolan says "pretty much." She then says "that applies to you," and he responds the same way. He then comments that the reason guys are always adjusting their belts or standing around with their hands in their pockets is because they're thinking about sex. A brief running gag then follows where Amanda sees men adjusting their belts after earlier stating that she'd never be able to get that thought out of her mind.
  • After commenting on why Tom doesn't wear a belt, Amanda tells him about the 238 times a day theory. He then calculates that out for how many hours he's awake and it comes down to every four minutes and then says, "Yeah, that's about right." After noting that she's been in his store for twenty minutes, she says, "One good sexual thought takes at least twenty minutes."
  • Lois tells Tom that rumors are floating around about him and Amanda "flagrante" (in the act) upstairs (he says they were just dancing, which they were).
  • Tom and Amanda do some passionate kissing in the kitchen, and then lower themselves to the floor behind a magical fog that's there (thus we don't know what else occurs).
  • As Lois acts somewhat aroused after eating Amanda's dessert, she states that she wishes that Jonathan were around. Later, we see her feeding him one of those deserts in an elevator, and then them kissing and her raising her leg up along his side. Moments later, the elevator door opens and the two exit, looking rather happy and pleased (but we don't know if they did anything or not).
  • Tom and Amanda passionately lick each other's fingers after eating some fruit, and they kiss again (and then float to the ceiling).
  • Jonathan suggestively asks Lois if she's busy. She says that he's the boss (in other words, whatever he says is fine), but he then asks if she can be the boss this time.
  • Amanda jokingly comments about having previously had her hand up Tom's pants, and that men are so "easy."
  • None.
  • Amanda briefly mentions that her mother is dead.
  • The unexplained "magic" that made Amanda's meals so special (and caused her and Tom to levitate while kissing).
  • Under the spell of one of Amanda's meals, Tom's girlfriend heaves some plates across the restaurant where they shatter against the walls and floor.
  • A chef throws a knife across a room and into the wall, and jams several others into some furniture.

  • Reviewed February 5, 1999 / Posted on February 5, 1999

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