The Menu [Grade: 78.33%]

Director: Mark Mylod

Story By: Seth Reiss & Will Tracy

Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Fiennes, Nicholas Hoult, Hong Chau, Janet McTeer, Paul Adelstein, John Leguizamo, Aimee Carrero, Reed Birney, Judith Light, Rebecca Koon, Rob Yang, Arturo Castro, & Mark St. Cyr

* * *

This was a nice theater experience that I wasn’t expecting at all!   

* * *

Theme & Story: B-

Pacing: B-

Character: B-

Overall “Paper” Score: B-

* * *

Entertainment Factors

General Public: Worth the $$$

Horror Comedy Movie Fans: Interesting Enough

Experience Seekers (Eeriness & Laughs): Wait for Streaming

Overall “Viewing Experience” Score: Don’t Rush

* * *

TAKEAWAYS:

1. A group of guests, primarily of financial privilege, pay to experience a high profile chef’s creative and intentionally crafted menu that turns violently immersive. This is The Menu. 

Thematically, I walked away following messaging about the mental toll that can occur for people at the intersections of critique, passion, support, and genuineness. The messaging definitely gets clearer as the film progresses, oftentimes needing to be subtly “said” vs experienced, which is okay. 👍🏾

The strength of the story for me was the last third of Act One to the first half of Act Two. Here, I felt the theme started to bloom with the story while also accelerating my viewing experience and engagement with the film overall. 👍🏾

The area I found to be the story’s area for growth was the second half of Act Two and all of Act Three. Now the engagement/viewing factor is really high, but it’s here that I felt the theme, though being given to you to an extent, didn’t quite match up well with all the characters who were [selected for] moving this story along. 🥴

2. I LOVED the audience view of “the menu” items! 😂👍🏾

3. That chicken looked good! 👀😩😋

4. The separation of men and women scene… on one hand, I get it… on another hand, there were women who don’t quite fit with rationale I have about why this moment happened… 🤔

5. The Menu has a runtime of about 97 minutes, and it was such a wild, good time despite it also being a horror film. The film, for me, was truly an engaging experience that almost felt like it was meant to be an extension of the experience the characters were going through as well. 👍🏾

Pacing for story and thematic continuity on the other hand wasn’t “bad,” but it felt a little choppy for me due to the thematic energy (if you will) being presented from one character perspective, while also later feeling like multiple characters also shared in this energy but weren’t really given enough screen time unpack how. And it wasn’t like I needed fully flushed out storylines, but more intentionality with learning about the pairings/plus ones seemed to be my need. 🤷🏾‍♂️

6. Chile, mama was wasted! 😂

7. Them tortillas were MEEESSSSY! Messy Boots! 😂😂

8. That autograph moment was predictable. 🤷🏾‍♂️

9. Chile, Tyler and Elsa… separately as characters… a kee. 😩😂

10. Oh, Hong Chau was hilarious. Her character didn’t have to do “too much,” and yet she commanded so many moments. 👏🏾👏🏾👍🏾

Ralph Fiennes was also really great as the chef. There was this eery, sedated mad scientist aspect to his delivery that also translated well as an exaggeration of a world renowned creative culinary genius. 👍🏾

Other than Chau, other characters and performances were simply “proficient” for me. Anya Taylor-Joy (love her) was good, and sort of in a familiar role; John Leguizamo felt a little constricted, but it also seemed necessary, and it worked for me; and Nicholas Hoult was annoyingly entertaining and hilarious. 👍🏾

When it comes to characters carrying out the theme, I feel that more could’ve been done. Ralph Fiennes’ character was both the embodiment and narrator for theme. BUT… there is something about how this film ends, what is discussed at the movie star table, and what is implied at the rich couple’s table that lens itself to each character actually being able to carry out the theme as well. I also feel like these moments were intentional to do just that, but missed the mark. 🤷🏾‍♂️

And to piggyback off point #4, I think even having the “women’s moment” scene was another layer to the theme that screamed (to me) that more followthrough by all characters was intended by not really flushed out.🤷🏾‍♂️

* * * 

Overall #TheMenu gives Get Out – meets And Then There Were None – meets Hell’s Kitchen – meets Ruthless – meets Black Mirror.

I really enjoyed my viewing experience with this film! I really wasn’t expecting this film to be the surprise that it was. The cast and overall team, based on the production, came off as having a fun time with this film as well. 

Yeah there are a few story moves that could be tightened up just a smidge, but they aren’t that obvious that it interrupts the overall flow of the film and audience experience.

I also loved the audience of strangers I had in the theater with me. I mean, we all really had a nice time viewing this film. There was an air of satisfaction.

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