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|Directed by||Gurinder Chadha|
|Produced by||Jeffrey Taylor|
|Written by||Gurinder Chadha
Paul Mayeda Berges
|Music by||Craig Pruess|
|Editing by||Janice Hampton|
|Studio||Redbus Film Distribution|
|Distributed by||Trimark Pictures|
|Running time||109 minutes|
What's Cooking? is a 2000 British/American comedy-drama film directed by Gurinder Chadha and starring Mercedes Ruehl, Kyra Sedgwick, Joan Chen, Lainie Kazan, Maury Chaykin, Julianna Margulies, Alfre Woodard, and Dennis Haysbert.
The plot takes place on Thanksgiving, in which four ethnically diverse families -- Vietnamese, Latino, Jewish, and African American—gather for the traditional meal. But each family has its own distinct set of problems, and hilarity ensues.
Ruth and Herb Seelig (Lainie Kazan and Maury Chaykin) welcome their daughter Rachel (Kyra Sedgwick) home for the holiday. Rachel brings her lesbian lover Carla (Julianna Margulies), much to Mom and Dad's discomfiture. Additional relatives, not yet clued in, are scheduled to drop by.
Trin and Duc Nguyen (Joan Chen and François Chau) have just had #2 son ejected from school. If that isn't enough, Trin has found a condom among #1 daughter's possessions. And #1 son isn't bothering to attend the gala affair at all, but is secretly going to the home of his Latino girlfriend, the Avilas.
Mrs. Elizabeth Avila (Mercedes Ruehl) is separated from her husband Javier (Victor Rivers) since he had a tempestuous affair with her cousin. Unbeknownst to Elizabeth, son Tony (Douglas Spain) has invited Papa over for the holiday meal as he has nowhere else to go. Unbeknownst to Tony, Mom has her own bombshell to drop. And, of course, the Avila daughter, Sofia (Maria Carmen), has invited her non-Latino boyfriend.
In the meantime, Audrey Williams (Alfre Woodard) must both cook and make nice with her overly critical mother-in-law, Grace (Ann Weldon), while the former's husband, Ronald (Dennis Haysbert), referees. The state of the couple's marriage is tense, and their teenage son, Michael (Eric George), isn't expected to appear for unstated reasons, which perhaps is just as well as Ronald's approval rating of his boy is at an all-time low.
As the plot evolves, the obvious conflict in each of these households is revealed as only the tip of the iceberg.
Each of these culturally different families prepares its own favorite side dishes to accompany the regular bird. Much screen time is dedicated to food preparation.
- Mercedes Ruehl as Elizabeth "Lizzy" Avila
- Kyra Sedgwick as Rachel Seelig
- Joan Chen as Trinh Nguyen
- Lainie Kazan as Ruth "Ruthie" Seelig
- Maury Chaykin as Herb "Herbie" Seelig
- Julianna Margulies as Carla
- Alfre Woodard as Audrey Williams
- Dennis Haysbert as Ronald Williams
- Gregory Itzin as James Moore
- Estelle Harris as Aunt Bea
- Kam Fong
Reviews have been mixed. The movie holds a "Rotten" Rating of 52% on Rotten Tomatoes, stating "What's Cooking? is well-acted, but the scenes sometimes sink into melodrama as characters scream at each other, and the movie as a whole is too lightweight and forgettable." The film grossed $1,649,655.