Simply Irresistible Reviews
Simply Irresistible (1999) starring Sarah Michelle Geller and Sean Patrick Flannery, has it all; a magical crab, beautiful food, the debut of a Xanadu-esque New York City department-store-plus-restaurant, and did you hear about the magical crab? It perfectly represents the level of suspended disbelief one must employ while watching this film. All of the elements, while some have potential to be interesting, are presented, but not integrated, explained, or questioned by the film or its characters. The film's lack of self-awareness leaves me wondering what's a joke and what's not. Should I be laughing at what's happening, or the absurdity that it is indeed happening?
The film opens with unbelievably cute Sarah Michelle Geller as Amanda buying fresh food to serve in her restaurant. As if by magic (before we even see any crab) Amanda, with her effortless charm of cuteness, gets everything she wants; despite a vendor-who she knows by name-talking up her stock of blackberries, her daughter mouths to Amanda that the raspberries are fresher. Everyone loves her, but we are not given any reason as to why they should. The film opens by undermining itself, the exploitative nature of cuteness working against the themes of the story, making it almost impossible to walk away from the film with any kind of insight, moral, or interesting takeaway. The film is meant to show how she becomes irresistible but rarely shows her being resisted; she just happens to have inherited a restaurant she cannot manage. Amanda never works towards any of her goals, and receives her magical assistance in the first scene of the film. It's almost impossible to connect with a character who gets everything easily and for free.
This movie is especially lacking in how it deals with food. The restaurant is inherited by Amanda when her mother dies, and everyone talks about what an amazing cook she was. Maybe she never taught Amanda how to cook, maybe she was never interested in learning, but the film never explores any familial relationships through the lens of food, despite her mother feeling like another character in the film embodied in the restaurant. Amanda has a pair of earrings from her mother that are important to her, but no dish that reminds her of her, no food she cooked for her when she was a child, no moments or memories that are every actually about food.
The film opens itself to interesting topics, but shies away from them. Amanda never denies her magic to Tom or almost anyone else, which is very unique. When he learns of it, he is spooked and it keeps them apart for all of a scene or two before she becomes the head chef of Tom's restaurant and they're back on the same team.
Luckily, Amanda does not fall into the tropes of the manic pixie dream girl-she is smart about some things, learns about others, has responsibilities and conversations outside of Tom's jurisdiction, and exists outside of the bubble of his character. Unluckily, she does not achieve anything in the film due to her own skill and hard work-the crab makes her able to make beautiful, inspiring dishes, but what really takes over the eater is her emotions-the diners are able to feel what she felt as she made the food. This is translated impressively in the final scenes when she cooks in Tom's restaurant. Surprisingly, this is an incredibly interesting dining scene; the set, the lighting, how affected the diners were by Amanda's food, and even the food itself was all unique, refined, captivating and inspired, but it really was too little too late to make up for the first hour of the film. This triumph might have been more impressive if she worked hard, but who needs skill when you have Crab Neapolitan?
Sarah Michelle plays Amanda, a young woman trying to hold on to the restaurant her dead mother left her and failing. There is a bit of silliness with a spirit and a crab, and then she meets a man and with the help of some "magic" and good food, they fall in love.
Sarah Michelle is charming and there's a good supporting role from Patricia Clarkson. The love interest is a bit bland, but the sou chef friend is hilarious.
Just a nice little movie.