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"WHAT'S COOKING?"
(2000) (Joan Chen, Alfre Woodard) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Moderate None Heavy Mild Mild
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild Minor Mild None Heavy
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Moderate None Extreme Moderate Minor


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: As four families of varied ethnic backgrounds separately assemble for Thanksgiving at their individual homes, they must all then deal with the varied family dynamics and issues confronting them.
PLOT:
It's Thanksgiving in Los Angeles and everyone's getting ready for the holiday, whether it's preparing for the big feast or arriving back home from out of town. Among those getting ready is the Williams family where mother Audrey (ALFRE WOODARD) is hoping for a perfect celebration. Unfortunately, she must cope with her meddling and critical mother-in-law, Grace (ANN WELDON), as well as her always busy at work husband, Ronald (DENNIS HAYSBERT), and his estranged relationship with their college-aged son, Michael (ERIC K. GEORGE), who may or may not come home for the holidays.

Then there's the Avila family where mother Elizabeth (MERCEDES RUEHL) hopes to introduce her new boyfriend and fellow teacher, Daniel (A MARTINEZ), to the family, but must contend with the fact that her son, Anthony (DOUGLAS SPAIN) has invited her adulterous and now separated husband, Javier (VICTOR RIVERS), over for Thanksgiving in hopes of getting them back together.

Although most of her family wants that to occur, Elizabeth needn't worry about getting such pressure from her daughter, Gina (ISIDRA VEGA), since she's preoccupied with her college boyfriend, Jimmy Nguyen (WILL YUN LEE), who's meeting the Avilas for the first time.

He's told his Vietnamese family that he can't get away from college, a point that only further upsets his mother, Trinh (JOAN CHEN), who doesn't understand where she went wrong in raising her kids. Among them is Jenny (KRISTY WU) who's adopted the American culture wholeheartedly but upset the family upon their discovery of a condom among her belongings, while her brother, Gary (JIMMY PHAM), has been hiding a gun under his bed.

Meanwhile, over at the Seelig household, parents Ruth (LAINIE KAZAN) and Herb (MAURY CHAYKIN) are trying to cope with the pairing of their adult daughter, Rachel (KYRA SEDGWICK) and her longtime lesbian lover, Carla (JULIANNA MARGULIES), and hope to keep that relationship secret from other visiting family members. As the various families assemble and then prepare and consume their Thanksgiving feasts, they all must then deal with the various family concerns and issues that arise over the holiday.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're fans of someone in the very large cast, it's probably not very likely.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For some sexuality, brief language and a perilous situation.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • ALFRE WOODARD plays an African-American woman who wants to have a perfect Thanksgiving celebration, but doesn't know if she can due to the actions of the rest of those in her family. She briefly uses strong profanity and nearly breaks down several times when things don't go right.
  • DENNIS HAYSBERT plays her husband who's always busy at work, doesn't get along with their college-aged son and has had an affair with someone at work.
  • ANN WELDON plays his meddling mother who constantly second guesses most everything about Audrey's cooking and life.
  • ERIC K. GEORGE plays Audrey and Ronald's son who's dropped out of college and is constantly at odds with his more conservative father.
  • MERCEDES RUEHL plays a schoolteacher who's been trying to get on with her life after kicking her adulterous husband out of the house. She briefly fools around with her new boyfriend and must then deal with a contentious Thanksgiving meal when both men show up.
  • VICTOR RIVERS plays her adulterous husband who wants her to forgive and take him back.
  • DOUGLAS SPAIN plays their son who invites Javier to Thanksgiving without asking his mother first (but does so since he wants them to get back together again). He drinks beer with the rest of the men in the family who expect the women to cater to them while they watch football.
  • ISIDRA VEGA plays his sister who's more interested in her new Vietnamese boyfriend with whom she briefly fools around. She briefly uses some profanity.
  • WILL YUN LEE plays that boyfriend who lies to his family about being stuck at college so that he can have Thanksgiving with Gina and her family (but is otherwise an okay guy).
  • JOAN CHEN plays his traditional-minded mother who doesn't understand where she failed in raising her children.
  • KRISTY WU plays her rebellious daughter whose adoption of American ways and dating of a non-Vietnamese boy has supposedly dishonored the family.
  • JIMMY PHAM plays her brother who's been hiding a gun under his bed for reasons that are never quite clear.
  • LAINIE KAZAN and MAURY CHAYKIN play a married Jewish couple that's uncomfortable but try to be gracious toward their daughter and her lesbian lover.
  • KYRA SEDGWICK plays that daughter who's in love with the woman played by JULIANNA MARGULIES, and is pregnant by artificial insemination.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this drama/comedy that's been rated PG-13. Several non-explicit sexual situations are present, including a woman under the covers with her new boyfriend, a young couple playfully fooling around in the shower (with partial nudity), and a lesbian couple in bed. One family finds a wrapped condom among the daughter's belongings, some affairs are mentioned and the lesbian couple is going to have a baby via artificial insemination.

    Profanity is rated as heavy due to at least 1 use of the "f" word, while other expletives and colorful phrases are present. Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, while all sorts of tense family moments occur throughout the film as various family members confront and argue, etc. with other family members.

    Various characters drink during the film and one scene involves a young boy discovering a loaded gun on the table (while the rest of his family argues about it, but doesn't see him with it) and then playing with it (including looking down its barrel several times). The gun ultimately goes off, but no one is harmed.

    Should this summary not answer your questions about the film and its appropriateness for anyone in your home who wishes to see it, you may want to examine our detailed content listings in more detail for more specific information.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Jimmy and another college student drink beer.
  • A photo shows a young Rachel with another young girl who's drinking a beer.
  • Some guys drink beer at Elizabeth's house, including Anthony, while watching football. Later, we still see them drinking beer.
  • A family arrives at the Williams' house with a bottle of wine or champagne.
  • Anthony and Jimmy drink beer.
  • Ronald and a friend of his drink what looks like champagne (although it could be beer), while Audrey opens some wine.
  • The various families have wine with their Thanksgiving meal, and then continue to do so later on (with some of the members of the Avila household also having beer.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • None.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Some young men run up and throw paint or something that looks like that on the Governor of California.
  • Jenny states that Gary was suspended from school for stealing some tests.
  • Hoping to get his parents back together again, Anthony invites Javier over for Thanksgiving without asking his mother (who wants nothing to do with her cheating husband who no longer lives at home).
  • Jimmy lies to his family about having to stay at college when he reality he doesn't want to tell them that he's really going to his girlfriend's home for Thanksgiving.
  • Grace is a meddling and critical mother-in-law to Audrey.
  • The guys at Elizabeth's house do the typical "man" thing at Thanksgiving where they don't help at all with the festivities and want to be served by the ladies (such as Anthony asking for them to bring him another beer). In addition, some of them (including Anthony and Javier) mistake Jimmy for being Chinese (he's Vietnamese) and keep asking him about Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. In addition, some of the women in the household say (in Spanish) that "they're good with money" (meaning Asians).
  • A young woman, Monica, invited over to Audrey's house with her father and his new girlfriend/wife, has a bad attitude about being there and most everyone she encounters.
  • We hear that Rachel's uncle is having an affair.
  • Some may see the Nguyen children as having both for having "disgraced" the family with their behavior (that's what the parents think), whereas others will see the parents as having both toward their young adult kids.
  • Javier tells a joke about a drunk approaching a woman who's breastfeeding and inviting himself over "for dinner."
  • We learn that Ronald had an affair sometime in the past.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • The Nguyen's youngest son finds Gary's loaded gun lying on the table (as the family argues about it) and begins playing with it, including looking down the barrel on several occasions. When the scene cuts away from him, we hear a gunshot (but it turns out he wasn't harmed).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Handgun: Found by Jenny under Gary's bed and later played with by their younger brother.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "You're in deep sh*t," "Your mother thinks you sh*t ice cream," "It looks like sh*t," "Holy sh*t," "Bitch" (said by Gary by himself while acting like a gang banger tough guy), "Pissed off," "Slut," "Whore," "Shut up," "Screwed up," "Freaked out," "Pain in the ass," "You're freaking me out" and "Don't screw around."
  • Some young men run up and throw paint or something that looks like that on the Governor of California.
  • Jenny gives "the finger" to Gary who in turn gives it back to her.
  • Carla has a tattoo on her arm.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • The sudden sound of a gunshot might startle some viewers.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A mild amount of suspenseful music plays in a few scenes.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 1 "f" word, 12 "s" words, 4 hells, 1 ass, 1 damn, 4 uses each of "Oh God" and "Oh my God" and 1 use each of "For Christ's sakes," "For God's sakes," "My God," "Swear to God" and "Oh my Lord" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • We briefly see a couple making out on a city bus.
  • We hear a couple kissing and laughing while under the covers. We then see Elizabeth's boyfriend on top of her (and see his bare back, but nothing else, as the phone interrupts them, although the boyfriend keeps playfully kissing her on her neck and shoulders while she's on the phone).
  • Jenny's grandmother finds a condom (in its wrapper) and everyone then reacts to this (with Jenny saying that they give them out at school).
  • Rachel and Carla are lesbian lovers and they stay together in the same bedroom (after pushing the beds together) in Rachel's parents' home. Carla says that she doesn't mind pushing the beds together and that she actually likes it since it makes her feel like they're doing something "naughty." Later, we see them snuggled up in bed, but with no related sexual activity.
  • Having just arrived at her mom's house, Gina suddenly runs into the shower with Jimmy who's already there (we see a head and shoulders shot of both). He thinks it's a bad idea since he's just met her mother, but Elizabeth just smiles outside the door and asks if they want anything to eat. We then briefly see the top of Gina's bare breasts, then her in a towel, and then briefly his bare butt as he runs back into the shower.
  • We see the top of Rachel's bare butt as she gets dressed. We then see her and Carla kissing.
  • When Jenny's parents discover she's seeing a non-Vietnamese guy, they ask if that's why she has condoms. This leads to a lot of yelling and screaming and her stating that she doesn't sleep with everyone.
  • Carla shows some cleavage.
  • Rachel announces that she's pregnant (through artificial insemination from a gay man) and that she and Carla will raise the baby as its parents. Before they learn about the artificial insemination, however, various family members want to know if she had sex with some anonymous man, etc.
  • SMOKING
  • None.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Anthony and his wife run into Javier (his estranged father who cheated on Elizabeth with her cousin and no longer lives at home) at the grocery store and invite him over for Thanksgiving. Upon hearing this, Elizabeth clearly isn't happy, and is even less so when he shows up and tries to make up with her. Then various family members later splinter about whether Elizabeth should forgive Javier, which only becomes tenser when Daniel, her new boyfriend, shows up.
  • The Nguyens aren't happy with Jenny and finding a condom in her belongings (which leads to much family tension) and Trinh wonders what's happened with her children and where she went wrong with them.
  • We learn that Ronald and his son Michael have an estranged father/son relationship, and when the latter unexpectedly arrives at home, Ronald isn't happy and the sparks are soon flying between them as they argue about various issues and Michael's career path/dropping out of school, etc.
  • We hear that Rachel's uncle is having an affair.
  • At the Seelig household, various family members get into an argument about the Governor and his homophobic policies, all while Herb and Ruth try to calm things down so that Rachel's aunt and uncle don't learn that she and Carla are lesbian lovers.
  • Michael lets out that Ronald had an affair with an assistant of his and this leads to tense family moments in the Williams family.
  • When some gang members come looking for Gary, Jenny won't let him go out. She then brings up the gun issue and more family tension/arguing arises.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Family dynamics and working through various problems that arise when all family members and their differing opinions, beliefs and behaviors are brought together for any special event, such as Thanksgiving.
  • Why Gary really had a gun under his bed (was he really holding it for a friend as he said, or was he involved in something else?).
  • The way in which the various wives deal with their adulterous husbands.
  • Michael and his father's differing opinions on affirmative action, etc.
  • The way in which the Avila men sit around and make the women in the family do all of the domestic work/cooking, etc.
  • Rachel announces that she's pregnant (through artificial insemination) and that she and Carla (her lesbian lover) will raise the baby together.
  • VIOLENCE
  • While trying to act like a tough guy in the mirror, Gary kicks the wall, knocking something loose from it.



  • Reviewed November 13, 2000 / Posted November 22, 2000

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