“The Hundred-Foot Journey” is a film that demands that you take it seriously. With its feel-good themes of multicultural understanding, it is about Something Important. It even comes with the stamp of approval from titanic tastemakers Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg, who both serve as producers. What more convincing could you possibly need?
There’s something familiar about the treacly and sanctimonious way this film is being packaged. It reeks of late-‘90s/early ‘00s Miramax fare: films with tasteful yet ubiquitous ad campaigns and unabashed Oscar aspirations which suggested that seeing them (and, more importantly, voting for them) would make you a better person. Films like “The Cider House Rules,” “Chocolat” and “The Shipping News.” Films by Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom.
Hallstrom just happens to be the director here, as well, and the similarities to “Chocolat” are inescapable. Stop me if think you’ve heard this one before: A family moves into a quaint but closed-minded French village and shakes things up with an enticing array of culinary delicacies. This new enterprise happens to sit across the street from a conservative and revered building that’s a town treasure. But the food in question isn’t a bon bon this time—rather, the movie is the bon bon itself.
But despite being handsomely crafted, well acted and even sufficiently enjoyable, “The Hundred-Foot Journey” is also conventional and predictable. And for a film that’s all about opening up your senses and sampling spicy, exotic tastes, this comic drama is entirely too safe and even a little bland.