Two straight weeks, two straight obnoxious geniuses. But the difference between this week’s Burnt and last week’s Steve Jobs (aside from the quality of the acting, the direction, and the screenplay) is that Steve Jobs feels worthwhile, whereasBurnt feels like a mailed-in Hell’s Kitchen ripoff.
Bradley Cooper plays super-chef Adam Jones, who we’re meant to believe is somewhere on the spectrum between the Devil and Gordon Ramsay when it comes to cooking. Outside the kitchen, though, Adam’s a wreck– a recovering junkie, drunk, and womanizer who has left a trail of enemies everywhere he’s been, putting him apparently at the top of the Global Pariahs list.
But now he’s back! And we’re supposed to care.
Cooper cares, certainly– he throws his all into the performance, even as he’s forced to spout god-awful lines like “The kitchen is the only place I’ve ever really felt like I belonged.” And though his charisma carries the movie as long as it can, even that isn’t enough once the movie’s third act rolls around.
Burnt’s mediocrity isn’t all that surprising. Screenwriter Steven Knight’s similarly so-so effort almost killed fellow-foodie movie The Hundred-Foot Journey just last year. And director John Wells (August: Osage County) has proven that he’s a master of wasting great talent. Not only does Sienna Miller’s co-starring role amount to very little (though it’s far from her fault), you’ll wonder why Uma Thurman, Emma Thompson, Lily James, Alicia Vikander, and Omar Sy even signed on.
A decade ago, Burnt could have been a fresh, fascinating glimpse (albeit with a weak screenplay) inside the secret world of chefs and top-notch restaurants. But with shows like Top Chef and Iron Chef and Master Chef, along with movies likeBig Night, Ratatouille, and No Reservations, showing us the same thing (and generally doing it better), Burnt comes across as just a lazy, over-stuffed story about a loud-mouthed twit who needs to change his ways.
You’ll certainly leave hungry; there is food-porn galore in Burnt (Ramsay himself served as chef consultant). The trouble is, you’ll also leave hungry for a better movie.