The Kitchen (2019 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Andrea Berloff|
|Written by||Andrea Berloff|
|Music by||Bryce Dessner|
|Edited by||Christopher Tellefsen|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$16 million|
The Kitchen is a 2019 American crime film written and directed by Andrea Berloff in her directorial debut. It is based on the DC/Vertigo Comics limited series of the same name by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle. The film stars an ensemble cast, led by Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, and Elisabeth Moss as the wives of Irish mobsters, who take over organized crime operations in New York's Hell's Kitchen in the late 1970s, after the FBI arrests their husbands. The film also features Domhnall Gleeson, James Badge Dale, Brian d'Arcy James, Jeremy Bobb, Margo Martindale, Common, and Bill Camp in supporting roles.
Produced by New Line Cinema, Bron Creative, and Michael De Luca Productions, the film was theatrically released in the United States on August 9, 2019, by Warner Bros. Pictures. It received mostly negative reviews from critics, who criticized the convoluted plot, and grossed $16 million against its $38 million budget, making the film a box-office bomb.
In Hell's Kitchen 1978, three women are married to members of the Irish mob. Kathy is married to the reluctant but kind Jimmy; Ruby is married to Kevin, the son of Helen and heir to the mob empire; Claire is married to Rob, who abuses her.
One night, the men are busted by FBI agents and sentenced to three years in prison. Little Jackie becomes head of the mob and tells the wives they'll be taken care of, but the money isn't enough for the women to survive. When the women discover that the local businesses paying protection fees are not happy under Little Jackie, they begin collecting protection fees and helping out the neighborhood, making a profit and becoming beloved in the community. When Jackie finds out, he goes after the women, but is killed by Gabriel O'Malley, a former Irish mob enforcer called in by Ruby. With Jackie out of the way and Gabriel as their enforcer, the women begin running the neighborhood, while Gabriel and Claire begin a relationship.
The women eventually are ordered to meet with Alfonso Coretti, the head of the Italian mafia. He suggests they make a deal and tells them he's arranged for their husbands to be released from prison. Knowing that this will threaten the women's power, Coretti says he'll support them and give them more of the city to control. The women decide to take the deal. When their husbands get out of prison, Kevin thinks that he's still in charge, Jimmy pressures Kathy for them to leave their life of crime, and Rob is furious that Claire has left him for Gabriel. When Rob tracks Claire down, she kills him. After Rob's murder, Coretti tells the women that a contract has been placed on them by members of their own gang. Ruby offers more money for the mafia to kill Kevin and three other gangsters, but Kathy makes her drop teenager Colin from the list. The hit goes through, but Claire is killed when Colin comes back to exact revenge.
After Claire's funeral, Kathy realizes that Ruby has been paying off one of the FBI agents. Ruby explains that she set up their husbands to be caught on the night they were originally arrested so that she could take over. Kathy later finds that Jimmy has taken her children to Coretti against her will because Jimmy was unhappy about not having a place in the business. Feeling betrayed, Kathy leaves, allowing Coretti to kill Jimmy.
Ruby asks Kathy to meet her at a vendor. When Kathy arrives, she finds that Ruby and Gabriel are planning to kill her, but Kathy has brought all of the local Irishmen as backup. Gabriel admits he only got back into the life because he loved Claire, and he leaves. Kathy tells Ruby that the only way the two of them will survive is if they work together, so the women reconcile, with plans to take on Uptown next.
- Melissa McCarthy as Kathy Brennan, Jimmy's wife, devoted mother of Peter and Jennifer. Initially reluctant to enter the criminal domain, then excels through her deft abilities.
- Tiffany Haddish as Ruby O'Carroll, Kevin's wife and an outsider in the Irish community who seeks self-sufficiency once her husband is not around to protect her.
- Elisabeth Moss as Claire Walsh, Rob's wife, an initially timid woman who falls in love with the violence of her new life. After years of abuse by Rob, she falls for the loving Gabriel.
- Domhnall Gleeson as Gabriel O'Malley, an intense Vietnam veteran who worked for the neighborhood gangsters as a hitman before skipping town to avoid the police. Returns to help Claire when the wives take over.
- James Badge Dale as Kevin O'Carroll, Ruby's husband and Helen’s son.
- Brian d'Arcy James as Jimmy Brennan, Kathy's husband.
- Margo Martindale as Helen O'Carroll, Kevin's mother who runs the Irish mob behind the scenes.
- Common as Gary Silvers, an FBI agent.
- Bill Camp as Alfonso Coretti, boss of a Brooklyn Italian crime family.
- Jeremy Bobb as Rob Walsh, Claire's husband.
- E. J. Bonilla as Gonzalo Martinez, and Gary's FBI agent partner.
- Wayne Duvall as Larry, Kathy's father.
- Annabella Sciorra as Maria Coretti, Alfonso's wife.
- Myk Watford as Little Jackie Quinn
In February 2017, Andrea Berloff signed on to direct an adaptation of The Kitchen, a Vertigo comic book miniseries by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle. Berloff had already been commissioned to write the screenplay for the film, but she impressed executives at New Line Cinema, the film's production company, with her "edgy and subversive" perspective.
In November 2017, Tiffany Haddish, off of a breakthrough performance in Girls Trip, signed on as one of the film's three female leads. In February 2018, Melissa McCarthy came on board for another lead role, and in March 2018, Elisabeth Moss was cast as the last of the three leads, while Margo Martindale, Bill Camp, and Brian d'Arcy James were also added. In April 2018, Domhnall Gleeson, Common, James Badge Dale, Jeremy Bobb, and Alicia Coppola joined the cast, and in May 2018, James Ciccone was added as well. Coppola did not appear in the finished film.
In the United States and Canada, The Kitchen was released alongside Dora and the Lost City of Gold, The Art of Racing in the Rain, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and Brian Banks, and was projected to gross $9–14 million in its opening weekend. Playing at 2,742 theaters, it was the smallest wide release of McCarthy's career. After making $1.8 million on its first day, estimates were lowered to $5–6 million. The film ended up debuting to $5.5 million, the worst wide ening weekend of both McCarthy and Haddish's careers. The film dropped 60% in its second weekend to $2.2 million before being pulled from 2,125 theaters in its third weekend and making just $342,506. The Hollywood Reporter estimated the film would lose "tens of millions" for the studio, although noted it could find success in home media.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 24% based on 221 reviews, with an average rating of 4.45/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "With three talented leads struggling to prop up a sagging story, The Kitchen is a jumbled crime thriller in urgent need of some heavy-duty renovation." On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 35 out of 100, based on 42 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B–" on an A+ to F scale.
Variety's Owen Gleiberman described the film as "just like Widows, except not as good." Gleiberman was critical of the script but praised McCarthy's fierce performance, wished Tiffany Haddish had more to do, and that Margo Martindale had a bigger role. Ty Burr of The Boston Globe wrote, "There's only one Scorsese, and he ain't here."
Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote: "Speaking of female gangsters, no review of The Kitchen should overlook Margo Martindale, who steals every scene she's in as a mob matriarch – a gravelly voiced monster with a gutter mouth and a big photo of John F. Kennedy on her wall. Martindale gets to be evil and has as much fun onscreen as she can without smiling."
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