Directed by Gurinder Chadha, starring Joan Chen, Julianna Margulies, Mercedes Ruehl, Kyra Sedgwick and Alfre Woodard.
'What's Cooking?' is an exploration of the diverse cultures living in Los Angeles, and the manner in which different ethnic groups celebrate the American holiday of Thanksgiving. However, it's not just Thanksgiving dinner on the menu for this wonderfully tasty film, but appetizing ingredients such as love, deceit, unexpected revelations, uninvited guests and of course, family feuds, all blending together to produce one interesting dish.
The film charts how four diverse families celebrate the festive day. The Williams family (Alfre Woodard and Dennis Haysbert) dealing with a strained marriage, are trying to make the most of the day by putting on a happy front for their dinner guests until it all goes terribly wrong when son Michael spills the beans. The Latino Avilia family offer us the most colourful recipe when Elizabeth's (Mercedes Ruehl) cheating husband arrives for dinner, uninvited, only to meet her new boyfriend. And that's just for starters!
In the Seeligs household, thirty-something-year-old Rachel (Kyra Sedgwick) is trying to break the news to her parents that she's a lesbian and the Nguyen family efforts to hold onto their Vietnamese culture proves futile when the youngest son requests Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner as opposed to a traditional Vietnamese meal.
Director Gurinder Chadha delivers a very simple message. Despite the apparent differences between the families, there lies a common thread: human relations don't change all that much between different ethnic groups, and perhaps more obvious, every family has problems. However, although Chadha serves up a warm and funny celebration of diversity, the film veers in the direction of a fairytale that is too difficult to stomach, so no doubt I won't be going back for second helpings.