Tortilla Soup

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Tortilla Soup
Original poster
Directed by María Ripoll
Produced by John Bard Manulis
Written by Tom Musca
Ramón Menéndez
Vera Blasi
Music by Bill Conti
Cinematography Xavier Pérez Grobet
Edited by Andy Blumenthal
Distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films
Release date
  • August 24, 2001 (2001-08-24)
Running time
103 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $4,574,762[1]

Tortilla Soup is a 2001 American comedy-drama film directed by María Ripoll. The screenplay by Tom Musca, Ramón Menéndez and Vera Blasi is based on the film Eat Drink Man Woman, which was written by Hui-Ling Wang, Ang Lee, and James Schamus.


Semi-retired Mexican-American chef Martin Naranjo (Héctor Elizondo) shares a suburban Los Angeles home with his three adult daughters. Although he has lost the senses of smell and taste since his wife's death, he still cooks elaborate, multi-course meals for his family and friends. The women humor their father's old-fashioned ways, but each is searching for fulfillment outside the family circle.

Leticia (played by Elizabeth Peña), the oldest and most conservative of the three, is a repressed high school chemistry teacher who abandoned Catholicism to become a born-again Christian. Middle daughter Carmen (Jacqueline Obradors) shares her father's passion for food but has stifled her dream of owning a restaurant in favor of pursuing a more stable career as a business analyst. Maribel (Tamara Mello), the youngest, is hip and slightly rebellious.

Frequently present in the Naranjo home are newly divorced family friend Yolanda (Constance Marie), her young daughter April, and her visiting mother Hortensia (Raquel Welch), who has set her sights on Martin and is determined to make him her next husband, unaware his attention is focused on someone else.

Maribel is drawn to handsome Brazilian student Andy after her co-worker rejects him and, after they briefly date, she invites him home for dinner, during which she blithely announces she is moving in with him, much to her father's consternation and Andy's shock, since they never had discussed elevating their somewhat casual relationship to this next level. Before long she is rearranging his small apartment and unintentionally making him increasingly uncomfortable as she imposes herself in his life.

Meanwhile, Leticia finds herself attracted to Orlando Castillo, who coaches baseball at her school, when she begins to receive passionate love letters she believes are from him, unaware they actually were written by her students. Carmen is offered a high-profile job in Barcelona, and half-heartedly agrees to accept it, although soon after her father drives her to the airport she returns home, determined to follow in her father's footsteps and open a restaurant of her own.

Leticia and Orlando elope, Maribel and Andy break up and reunite, Martin marries Yolanda, and everyone gathers for a family meal at Carmen's new restaurant.


The film was shot on location in El Segundo, California, USA and Los Angeles, California, USA

The meals featured in the film were prepared by celebrity chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger who, as hosts of the Food Network program Too Hot Tamales, introduced viewers to their contemporary take on traditional Mexican cuisine. The Production Design was by the Argentine designer Alicia Maccarone.

The film's soundtrack includes "Sem contenção" by Bebel Gilberto, "Cuchi-Cuchi" and "Si estuvieras aquí" by Los Amigos Invisibles, "A bailar" by Patricio Castillo, "Si en un final" by Eliades Ochoa, "Call Waiting" by Zap Mama, "Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps" by Lila Downs, "Les Portes Du Souvenir" by Les Nubians, and "Amado mío" by Pink Martini.


Actor Role
Héctor Elizondo Martin Naranjo
Jacqueline Obradors Carmen Naranjo
Elizabeth Peña Leticia Naranjo
Tamara Mello Maribel Naranjo
Raquel Welch Hortensia
Paul Rodriguez Orlando Castillo
Constance Marie Yolanda
Marisabel García April
Nikolai Kinski Andy
Julio Oscar Mechoso Gomez
Judy Herrera Eden
Ken Marino Jeff
Troy Ruptash Hairdresser
Louis Crugnali Catering Assistant
Joel Joan Antonio Urgell
Ulises Cuadra Snide Student (as Ulysses Cuadra)
Mark de la Cruz April's Classmate
Eli Russell Linnetz April's Classmate
Stoney Westmoreland Baseball Umpire
Karen Dyer Rachel
Anthony C Sena Chef/Wait Staff

Critical reception[edit]

The film was fairly well received by critics, earning a 73% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[2]

Elvis Mitchell of the New York Times called the film "forgettable" and "as predictable as a fast-food restaurant." Although he thought it "has more warm, likable actors and agile performances than this material merits," he felt their "exuberance goes a long way, but not far enough."[3]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called the film "a warm human comedy that has no great deep message but simply makes us feel good" and added, "Tortilla Soup follows a familiar formula, in which the movie opens with everyone unmarried and we suspect it will have to end with everyone happily paired-off. But the movie is cast so well that the actors bring life to their predictable destinies, and Elizondo casts a kind of magical warm spell over them all."[4]

Ken Eisner of Variety called the film a "warm-blooded winner with equal emphasis placed on taste buds and heartstrings" and continued, "Easy to swallow is the decision to completely avoid issues of ethnic and economic conflict, making this genuine crowd-pleaser an utterly gang-and-drug-free look at Hispanic subculture. And it's one that all families can relate to - especially at dinnertime.[5]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Elizabeth Peña tied with Elpidia Carrillo in Bread and Roses for the ALMA Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture, and the film tied with Bread and Roses for the Imagen Foundation Award for Best Feature Film.

Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD on January 15, 2002. It is in fullscreen format with audio tracks and subtitles in English and Spanish. There are no bonus features.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]