Danny Aiello stars in this successful melding of “food films” and “gangster movies”
The Bottom Line
Come and get it!
The Full Review
Having all but fasted through the parade of dreadful movies served up by Hollywood this summer, the onset of the fall film season has my mouth watering. Perhaps that offers at least a partial explanation as to why I found the new indie film Dinner Rush to be so utterly enjoyable. Like a tasty appetizer that stimulates your taste buds in preparation for the main course, this tiny, character-driven film will more than whet your appetite for the feast that the upcoming months at the movies is certain to be.
Dinner Rush stars Danny Aiello as Louie Cropa, a longtime restaurateur whose TriBeCa restaurant, Gigino, has become a New York hotspot thanks to its star chef, Louie’s son, Udo Cropa (Edoardo Ballerini). Despite the success of his business, Louie is less than thrilled that his traditional Italian restaurant has been transformed into a destination where getting the right table is more important than getting the right dish. During what turns out to be one of Gigino’s busiest nights yet, a series of loosely connected mini stories unfold, each of which provides unique insight into the many fascinating characters that come to life in this film.
Udo believes the long lines at the door and the accolades he has won from food critics entitle him to take over control of the restaurant from his father. Yet, Louie feels differently (at least with regards to the entitlement part) and expresses this in a somewhat defiant manner by allowing only the sous chef, Duncan (Kirk Acevedo), to prepare his meals rather than his own son. But Duncan, who is looked upon by Louie as almost a second son, is not without his own problems. A slight gambling habit has landed him many thousands of dollars in debt to an unscrupulous gangster from Queens, played to perfection by Mike McGlone (The Brothers McMullen, The Bone Collector), who is looking to use the opportunity to force Louie into selling him the restaurant. Meanwhile, in one of the film’s more amusing story lines, a thick-skinned waitress named Marti (Summer Phoenix), must spend the evening at the beck and call of a self-important art dealer named Nino Fitzgerald (Mark Margolis). Much to Marti’s chagrin, Fitzgerald seems intent on impressing his entourage by continuously slinging acerbic sarcasm in the direction of the wait staff. Among the familiar faces that you will recognize in Dinner Rush are John Corbett of Sex and the City, who plays a Wall Street banker looking for a quick drink after work, as well as Sandra Bernhard, who plays a fussy restaurant critic with the hots for Udo.
While much of the acting in Dinner Rush must be commended, it is the terrific direction by Bob Giraldi and the delectable screenplay by Brian Katala and Rick Shaughnessy that truly make this film the joy that it is. Giraldi has built an illustrious career as an award winning director of television commercials and music videos (most notably Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”) and, by so adeptly capturing the frenzy behind the scenes at a restaurant, has now demonstrated that those talents extend to the big screen. And, at a time when it seems that dialogue is at best a placeholder in much of the big-studio schlock passed off as legitimate film, it is a rare treat to have Katala and Shaughnessy provide us with a clever script in which the words speak louder than action.
Many great scenes that demonstrate the managed chaos in the kitchen
the back and forth between Fitzgerald and Marti
An entertaining game of stump the bartender that plays out throughout the evening
None to speak of
Violence: A few scenes
Humor: Many humorous scenes