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A magical crab works wonders for a terrible chef's culinary skills, leading her towards the man of her dreams.
For more about Simply Irresistible and the Simply Irresistible Blu-ray release, see Simply Irresistible Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on June 19, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Sean Patrick Flanery, Patricia Clarkson, Dylan Baker, Lawrence Gilliard, Jr., Betty Buckley
» See full cast & crew
Simply Irresistible Blu-ray Review
Will this movie leave you feeling crabby?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, June 19, 2013
There's a lot of magic in the air.
There's some old saying about how a woman should attract a man, about the best, direct way to his heart being through his stomach. That may hold true for some, not-so-true for others, but either way it's an old favorite for a reason: because it works. Well, it works some of the time. And if it doesn't work? Just pick up a magical crab at the local open-air market and, with its crusty pincers pinching and creepy eyes watching, whip up some deliciously mind-altering and behavior-modifying treats sure to get even the most stubborn man (even the gym rat with the bulging biceps and "I'll Pump You Up" T-shirt who wouldn't eat a sweet if his life depended on it) to melt like butter in a warm pan. Yeah, that'll do it, most defin...wait...what? Magical crab? That doesn't make any sense, but Writer Judith Roberts and Director Mark Tarlov hope that such a trivial little detail won't interfere with the audience's enjoyment of their otherwise terribly standard and flat Romantic Comedy, Simply Irresistible. But, yes, it's all thanks to a magical crab, which is a really, really bad idea, like "movie of the week" bad. Pixar made a movie about a master chef rat very, very good, but this? Not so much (insert joke about "if only the movie was as irresistible as its title suggests" here).
Amanda Shelton (Sarah Michelle Gellar) has taken over the family restaurant, but she's not a particularly good cook. Business is down, rent is up, and it's looking like the restaurant of nearly seventy years, a neighborhood icon, is about to shut its doors. But as it always seems to, fate intervenes, and it's got more than a recipe for business success up its sleeve. While shopping for fresh produce, Amanda is approached by a man who insists she buy a crab. She complies but the crustacean escapes, leading her to bump into businessman Tom Bartlett (Sean Patrick Flanery) who is preparing to open a high-class restaurant of his own. Amanda is instantly taken by him, and fate leads him back to her restaurant where he enjoys a delicious meal that brightens his day but sours his girlfriend on their relationship. That's to Amanda's delight. With what has become something of a good luck charm, Amanda and her chef Nolan (Larry Gilliard Jr.) whip up some tasty meals and find business thriving. In the midst of the restaurant's growing popularity and the obvious magical effect the crab is having on cash flow and Amanda's love life, the only question is whether real romance can blossom under the spell of a magical crab and through the delights of delicious foods?
Certainly, a bit of magic has always been a staple of the Romantic Comedy. Love potions and various spells are a hallmark of fiction, but modern cinema has lately made use of any and all sorts of oddities to advance a plot. There's the magical mailbox in The Lake House, magical wishing dust in 13 Going on 30, the magical Italian fountain in When in Rome, and, heck, there's even the magical male appendage that promises true love after a lustful rodeo in Good Luck Chuck. That's a lot of magic and quite a bit of cinema success that's the result of the many enchantments. While a magical crab may be a little more novel than a magic fountain, a bit more inventive than magical dust, and certainly more family friendly than a magical sexual organ, it's certainly far more strange, particularly considering that it's so out of left field and is never really defined beyond "hey, it's magical, just go with it." Sadly, going with it -- even forgetting it's there -- still results in a rather poor movie.
Even the rest of the film isn't a magical experience but rather a movie that's magically uninspired. It's linear, wholly predictable, and not at all touching, heartfelt, or sincere. The better RomComs leave the audience caring for the characters. Not here. Whatever problems they face never feel personal or immediate. The restaurant is closing? The audience does't care. Tom doesn't see things working out with his current catch? No worries, Sarah Michelle's available. It'll just take a magical crab and some tasty food to win him over. Oddly enough, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Sean Patrick Flanery do find a spark of chemistry. They make for a fun pair and share some quality moments together, but rarely does the relationship -- or anything in the movie -- ever feel more than skin-deep. The film lacks a real sense of intimacy and love. It instead sort of just slowly pushes them together in traditional RomCom fashion. And that's not even considering the deeds of Mr. Crab. The details just don't work, and as constructed they wouldn't have worked any better than had Amanda unearthed some secret spice long stashed away in the very back of the cupboards. But at least with something like that, the movie would be happily crustacean-free, a little more believably approachable, and not quite so ridiculous as "magical crab!"
Simply Irresistible Blu-ray, Video Quality
Simply Irresistible doesn't provide an irresistibly gorgeous transfer. Anchor Bay's high definition presentation of a 1999 Fox catalogue title suffices, but it's a very modest sort of transfer that won't be dazzling even the easiest-to-please viewers. It's rather dim and dull, with colors that never explode off the screen and rarely hint at any sort of vibrance. The same may be said of details. The image benefits primarily from the heightened resolution of Blu-ray over standard definition but doesn't usually look significantly more film-like or better textured over lower-res DVD. Faces and clothes fall rather flat, clarity is but so-so, and the image is never razor-sharp. However, it doesn't fall into extreme lower end territory, either. Black levels are decent, but flesh tones take a rather obvious push towards a warmer-than-natural appearance. On the plus side, the transfer doesn't struggle with any excess edge enhancement or noise reduction pushed to the unwatchable, waxy extreme. It's a not-so-happy middle ground for this transfer, one that's perfectly watchable but not at all a looker.
Simply Irresistible Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Simply Irresistible's Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack isn't very desirable. It opens nicely enough, with upbeat notes flowing from the speakers, playing with fair clarity and nice spacing across the front and drifting through to the back as well. Unfortunately, the track takes a downward turn from there. Clarity is lacking to the point that there's a light muddiness to the presentation. It's not so unclear and unfocused as to lose even the basic elements, but it sounds stunted and not really allowed to flow naturally into the stage. This includes music, general sound effects (notably the plate smashing in chapter two), and dialogue, the latter of which isn't consistently problematic but doesn't always find the same level of evenness and clarity throughout. Light ambience is handled adequately but not with any sort of spunk or real, honest atmosphere; clanking pots and pans, for instance, are identifiable but not realistic. This is a terribly uninspired track that's only really good enough to get the listener through the film, no more and no less.
Simply Irresistible Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Simply Irresistible contains no extras, and no menu is included. The film begins playback immediately after disc insertion. Optional English SDH subtitles must be switched on or off in-film with the remote control.
Simply Irresistible Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Can a crab jump a shark? Simply Irresistible feels like the result when the Romantic Comedy has run out of ideas and transitions from the believably magical and whimsy to the downright absurd. It wouldn't look quite so ridiculous had the crab been replaced by a more believable ingredient, but no matter the catalyst the romance still feels dull and trite, lacking imagination and simply going through the various RomCom motions. There's a spark of chemistry between the leads, but it never ignites. Anchor Bay's Blu-ray release of Simply Irresistible features decent video, mediocre audio, and no extras. Skip it.
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