Today's Special (2010)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Samir (Aasif Mandvi, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, THE LAST AIRBENDER) is a sous chef who dreams of becoming the head chef at an upscale Manhattan restaurant. When he is passed over for a promotion he impulsively quits and lets his co-worker Carrie (Jess Weixler, TEETH) know that he intends to go to Paris and apprentice under a master French chef. Dreams must be put aside though after his father Hakim (Harish Patel, RUN FAT BOY RUN) has a heart attack and Samir is forced to take over Tandoori Palace, the nearly bankrupt family restaurant in Jackson Heights. Samir's relationship with his parents and his heritage is immediately put to the test. He has been estranged from his father since the death of his older brother, and his mother Farrida, (played by legendary cookbook writer and actor, Madhur Jaffrey), is consumed with finding a wife for her remaining son. While Samir is being forced to forsake his dreams, he is desperately trying to master Indian cooking to salvage the family business. Luckily, he crosses paths with Akbar, a taxi driver, passionate chef, and worldly raconteur (portrayed by the icon of Indian cinema, Naseeruddin Shah, MONSOON WEDDING). Akbar inspires Samir and teaches him to trust his senses more than recipes; to stop measuring his life, and to start truly living it. With Akbar's guidance, Samir has a chance to rediscover his heritage and his passion for life through the enchanting art of cooking Indian food. -- (C) Official Site
R (for language)
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Jess Weixler
as Carrie
Madhur Jaffrey
as Farrida
Dean Winters
as Chef Steve
Kevin Corrigan
as Stanton
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Critic Reviews for Today's Special

All Critics (31) | Top Critics (15)

This full, sweet comedy, adapted by star Aasif Mandvi from an Off-Broadway play, has a city flavor and a wry take on familial obligations.

Full Review… | November 30, 2010
New York Daily News
Top Critic

The film, like a great meal, leaves you wanting more.

Full Review… | November 30, 2010
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

An irresistible delight.

November 30, 2010
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Hits all the sentimental clichés of the genre as if they were stops on the No. 7 train.

Full Review… | November 19, 2010
New York Times
Top Critic

It's an easy movie to watch, and yet it's just as easy to forget or skip entirely.

Full Review… | November 18, 2010
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Charming and mouthwatering...

Full Review… | November 18, 2010
New York Post
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Today's Special


I've watched this movie half a dozen times since I got the DVD and still enjoy all the characters. I would love to see a sequel.

Vivian Anderson
Vivian Anderson

I liked this movie about an Indian chef who has to save his family's failing business in Queens. It will leave you craving a good curry.

Juli Ryan
Juli Ryan

Super Reviewer


Much like Chef, that I reviewed a couple of weeks ago, this is unabashed crowd-pleaser. Much like Chef, which is inspired heavily by latin culture, its food and its music, this is very much the same but with Indian food and music. With the film I reviewed yesterday, Gallows Hill or The Damned or however you want to refer to it, I brought up it looking incredibly cheap and low-budget as one of the reasons why it didn't work for me. I mentioned the fact that if any of the other elements were good, such as the acting or the writing, then looking like it was made on a shoestring budget wouldn't have been so much of an issue. Exhibit A would be this film right here. I don't think anybody will ever confuse this film's cinematography with that of Lord of the Rings or There Will be Blood. It's clear this was shot on a minuscule budget. But, you know what, it doesn't really matter when the script is sharp, the characters are likable, and the performances are as good as they are here. The story is simple, Samir impulsively quits his job as a sous chef when he finds out he's passed over for a promotion. A family emergency keeps him from going to Paris to fulfill his dreams and he takes over his father's restaurants. His father, much like is to be expected, is disappointed at the life his son has chosen instead of the life he wanted for him. He wanted Samir to be a doctor to bring honor to his family after his other son died in a car crash. So there's the generational struggle there. It's not necessarily unique, but it's well-written and well-acted. Of course after Samir takes over his father's restaurant, with the help of an incredibly charismatic cab driver, Akbar, as his cook, he brings success to his father's modest restaurant. Again, nothing about this is wholly unique to this particular film, but the execution definitely has a lot to do with that. The movie is really funny and there's just enough character development to not make the entire film come across as one-dimensional. Samir struggles with his own abilities as a chef, as he's never cooked Indian food. Akbar helps him regain his confidence as a chef as Samir, predictably, has to cook the climactic meal after the restaurant gets a 3 star review in the New York Times, or some other newspaper. The film also serves as an aperitif, ironically enough, for those unfamiliar with Indian culture. They don't hammer you over the head with it, keeping it as broad as it possibly can, but you do get a glimpse at it, even if it's in an exaggerated form. Not that the situations themselves are over-the-top, but I'm sure they took some inspiration from real Indian culture and turned the notch up to 11. Kind of a shame this film didn't do better, because it's really damn good. Great cast, a really solid and funny script make this film more than worth watching. It won't set the world on fire, but it will leave you in a good mood.

Jesse Ortega
Jesse Ortega

Super Reviewer

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