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Movie Review


MPAA Rating: R for language throughout.

Reviewed by: Gabriel Mohler

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Comedy Drama
1 hr. 40 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
October 30, 2015 (wide—2,400+ theaters)
DVD: January 26, 2016
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, The Weinstein Company

personalities and temperments of chefs

cooking in the Bible

working in restaurants

bosses who are very demanding

consequences of illegal drug habits

consequences of behaving like a diva

pride versus humility

working for redemption

striving for excellence in one’s work

how one can gain strength acknowledging their need for others

Featuring: Bradley CooperChef Adam Jones
Sienna MillerHelene
Emma ThompsonDr. Rosshilde
Uma ThurmanSimone
Alicia VikanderAnne Marie
Daniel Brühl … Tony
Riccardo Scamarcio … Max
Omar Sy … Michel
more »
Director: John Wells—“August: Osage County” (2013)
Producer: 3 Arts Entertainment
Double Feature Films
PeaPie Films
Distributor: The Weinstein Company

White walls, white uniforms, colorful plates. In this business drama, Adam Jones is a chef seeking redemption, both personal and in the business. He was once one of the greatest chefs in Paris, until he fell into drunkenness, drugs, and promiscuity. But now, as the story begins, he has achieved admirable self-control and is determined to get that fame and fortune back. But, to do so, he must outdo both good and bad competitors, and also learn the difference between mistreating his crew and teaching them discipline.

If I were to compare this film to food, it would be like underdone meat with way too much salt, or maybe a neatly decorated cake with no sugar. The casting is excellent. Bradley Cooper’s star performance is perfect; Sienna Miller is vulnerable but tough, as is Daniel Brühl, who, in a restaurant, brings back fond memories from “Inglourious Basterds.” Matthew Rhys has the looks and personality for his character, and the supporting cast is filled in like candies on a cupcake by Alicia Vikander, Omar Sy, and Uma Thurman (thankfully, Thurman is too sophisticated to bring back nightmares from “Kill Bill”). Beyond that and the spectacular music, I was unimpressed. It kept my interest well enough, but the plot and script didn’t really deliver anything extraordinary. “Flavorless” is a very fitting pun to describe it.

Morally, there is one thing I was VERY pleased about. Adam Jones’s life of immorality is not only portrayed negatively, but we don’t see a glimpse of it. The film starts after it’s over, and there is not so much as a flashback to anything inappropriate. It’s only mentioned by the characters, and it’s not described in detail, either. In this area, the film succeeded where many films fail.

That said, there are a few non-explicit, but crude, sexual comments made throughout the film. Also, on a negative note, it is passively mentioned that one of the main characters has gay feelings for Adam. At one point, when he tells Adam exciting news, Adam kisses him, but not out of gay feelings (he then enters a relationship with a female cook). This is a rather small detail, but worth cautioning viewers about.

Remember when I said the film had too way much salt? Yeah, that refers to the salty language. I counted 56 f-words. There was little besides that—7 misuses of Jesus, one of God, Hell (5), s-words (7), a** (2), b**tard (1), and pr*ck (1). This is yet another one of those films that would have been rated PG were it not for the language. It always makes me sad to see that. When Adam Jones was overcoming his addictions to drugs, alcohol, and sex, it’s too bad he didn’t clean up his mouth. He may be the best cook in Paris, but Matthew 15:11 says,

“Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.”

At the end of the day, I feel like most of this film’s potential was wasted. Not all of it, but most of it. The positive side isn’t extremely wonderful, and the negative side isn’t extremely horrible. I don’t recommend it, because the positive isn’t worth the negative. If I had to sum the film up in one word, it would be “bland.”

Violence: Mild to moderate / Profanity: Heavy to extreme / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

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Movie Critics

…a decently structured story of personal demons and culinary competition, with a couple of nice twists thrown in, but it’s built with materials that at this point in the life cycle of this genre are mighty shopworn. …The film might have felt fresh and invigorating in, say, 1996. …
—Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times

…Undercooked… “Burnt” may be about haute cuisine, but the movie is fast food all the way. …he arc of Adam’s redemption tale is yawningly familiar, the film doesn't pluck too insistently at your heartstrings. But that’s damning with faint praise. …
—Jon Frosch, The Hollywood Reporter

…Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper), self-styled bad boy of the London culinary world, scolds his fellow chefs for not meeting his brutally exacting standards: “If it’s not perfect, you throw it away!” Applying that logic, we would have to dispense entirely with “Burnt,” a moody-foodie therapy session that follows an increasingly tidy narrative recipe as it sets this one-man kitchen nightmare on a long road to redemption. …
—Justin Chang, Variety

“Burnt” is overcooked. If that sounds like a glib way to describe an entertainment about the comeback of a celebrity chef, it’s also perfectly suited to a movie that wears its glossiness as a badge of honor. …
—Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

…for a movie about a chef who just will not shut up about how great everything needs to be, he sure is stuck in a movie that otherwise screams milquetoast, in both ideas and execution. …
—David Berry, National Post

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