Cancelled TV Cavalcade: Kitchen Confidential (2005)

Back in 2005, I had no idea who Anthony Bourdain was, so he wasn’t the draw for me when it came to watching Fox’s Kitchen Confidential. It was all about the cast for me. I had seen Bradley Cooper in Wedding Crashers, one of my all time favorite movies. Sure he played a heel, but you could tell there was a ton of charisma under that douchey role. In addition to Cooper, the show also featured Nicholas Brendon, better known as Xander from Buffy (another favorite series) and John Frances Daley who I first dug in the amazing Freaks & Geeks and later in Waiting… where he played pretty much the same part (kitchen newbie). The cast also included John Cho who I probably wasn’t familiar with yet, Frank Langella (yeah, Skeletor), the lovely Jamie King and Sam Pancake who played Barry Zuckerkorn’s assistant on Arrested Development (another favorite). That’s a lot of goodness all in one package.

After getting really into Bourdain’s show No Reservations and remembering liking the few episodes I saw, I suggested to the missus that we watch the show. It was only two discs through traditional Netflix, but we still burned through them pretty quickly. The title of the show is based on Bourdain’s 2000 memoir and Cooper’s character share’s the famous chef’s name. The plot of the show revolves around Cooper’s washed up rock star chef getting another shot at running a restaurant thanks to Langella’s good faith. Cooper then puts together a team that includes Brendon, Cho and a few others. The key, though, is that Cooper needs to do everything on the up and up because he sees this as his last chance at this kind of opportunity.¬†Another aspect of the show I really enjoyed aside from the performances and comedy, of which there’s a great deal, was it’s various philosophical points about food and cooking. Cooper’s voiceover often reminded me of those scenes in Ratatouille where Remy describes how two different foods taste together. There’s lots of insight from the point of view of cook which I find really interesting. I’m not sure if these things are taken straight from the book (I’ve got my eye out for a copy) or if they were written for the show, but I liked the insight. As my role in our kitchen has gotten more prominent, I find myself drawn towards the world of cooking and restaurants a lot more than ever before, so a kind of insider look at the biz was a lot of fun for me.

We really enjoyed watching the series’ 13 episodes and I highly recommend checking it out. By combining a few well worn elements like a workplace drama and a guy looking to make up for past indiscretions, Kitchen Confidential wound up being something unique and fun. I’m pretty surprised the show didn’t do well, but considering Fox’s past with shows like Firefly and Arrested Development, it should come as no surprise that something with so much potential got the axe so early.

Little Movies, Big Casts: Spring Breakdown (2009) & The Air I Breathe (2007)

The combination of Amy Poehler and Rachel Dratch sold me on watching Spring Breakdows as I’m not much of Parker Posey fan. It seems fairly obvious from watching the movie, though, that Posey wasn’t the first choice to play Beck St. Germaine as she basically plays a Tina Fey character. I would like to think that if Fey was in this movie it would be a lot better, but then again I was pretty disappointed and I find Poehler and Dratch to be great comediennes. The story follows three friends as they head to spring break to keep Posey’s boss’s daughter out of trouble, but as it turns out, the daughter is just a big nerd. There’s a current of lameness that seems to run under this movie at all times that seeps into the performances, dampening all of them except for Seth Meyers’ which is solid throughout his few scenes as Dratch’s gay fiance. But even his performance can’t elevate this very been-there-done-that movie. And again, this cast is crazy stacked with talent. Aside from the three leads, you’ve got Amber Tamblyn, Mae Whitman (Anne from Arrested Development), Sarah Hagan (Buffy, Freaks & Geeks), Jane Lynch, Will Arnett and even a brief cameo by Jack McBrayer (Kenneth from 30 Rock). And it still falls flat. Laguna Beach fans might want to take note that Kristen Cavaleri’s in the movie, but I’m guessing the director wasn’t too pleased with her performance as I, a recovering¬† LB fan, didn’t even notice her until about 3/4 of the way through the movie where she finally says something. There’s even a sexy talent show dance where she barely appears because, I’m guessing, she can’t dance.

Anyway, avoid this one. It’s played way too goofy and not in an ironic way, though it is nice to see Poehler playing a smarter character than Leslie Knope. I guess there’s a reason that some movies go straight to video.

While still not a great movie, The Air I Breathe was much better than Spring Breakdown, though comparing a goofy and boring spring break movie with a drama about emotions and people and how those people and emotions are connected probably isn’t an even one to make. Before getting into the plot, which I probably don’t completely understand, I want to give you a cast list. Ahem. Kevin Bacon, Brendan Fraser, Andy Garcia, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Emile Hirsch (completely didn’t recognize him, but knew he looked familiar), Forest Whitaker, Kelly Hu and John Cho are all in this movie. Okay, so here’s the deal as far as I can tell. Brendan Fraser can see the future. He works as muscle for Garcia’s mobster. Fraser kind of convinces Whitaker to try and rob a bank which goes wrong. Fraser then has to show Hirsch, playing Garcia’s visiting nephew, how not to get killed while being a mobster. Fraser sees Hirsch getting killed in a vision but somehow prevents it. Then, in exchange for not killing a guy, Garcia gets SMG’s pop star managing contract and puts Fraser in charge of her safety. They fall in love. It gets weird from there and a little circular, but I don’t think the way the movie ends makes sense compared to what you just saw a little while before. Basically, I’m not sure what happened to Fraser because I was working while watching.

Did anyone else watch this movie? I’m kind of surprised it didn’t make it to theaters with such an impressive cast and it’s not a bad movie by any means, but just more confusing that it should be. Fraser also plays his roll a bit too over dramatically for my taste, but everyone else seemed on point.