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Personally, I have not seen MOSTLY MARTHA, the original German film upon which NO RESERVATIONS ($29) is based, so I cannot comment how much this conventional American version resembles it, but the unoriginal way the story plays out leaves one with the distinct impression they are eating leftovers. Still, NO RESERVATIONS is a palatable romantic drama/comedy that leaves no bad aftertaste, but ultimately, isnít as memorable as a gourmet meal at a fine restaurant.

NO RESERVATIONS finds Catherine Zeta-Jones in the role of Kate Armstrong, a driven, obsessive, executive chef at a fashionable New York City restaurant. Kateís entire life revolves around her job, cooking and food, that is, until a tragedy leaves her to care for her young niece Zoe (Abigail Breslin). Of course, Kate knows absolutely nothing about caring for a child and finds herself a double failure, when she canít even get Zoe to eat anything she cooks. Enter new sous-chef Nick Palmer (Aaron Eckhart), who starts off as an irritant to Kate, as she thinks he is after her job, but the unconventional chef ultimately charms Zoe and the reluctant Kate. The cast of NO RESERVATIONS also features Patricia Clarkson, Jenny Wade, Bob Balaban, Brian F. O'Byrne, Lily Rabe, Eric Silver, Arija Bareikis, John McMartin, Celia Weston, ZŲe Kravitz, Matthew Rauch and Dearbhla Molloy.

Warner Home Video has made NO RESERVATIONS available on DVD in a 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. Like HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX and MICHAEL CLAYTON before it, NO RESERVATIONS demonstrates a slightly problematic compression, which I am sure has been exacerbated on this DVD by the fact that disc the also includes a full screen presentation on a separate layer. Mosquito noise and other compression artifacts are rather noticeable and detract from what appears to be a pretty solid transfer. Image sharpness and detail are generally good, but there is some softness to the presentation. Colors have a nice level of saturation and the flesh tones are fairly appealing. Blacks are fairly deep and the whites appear stable. Contrast and shadow detail are more than respectable. The film elements are clean and film grain is minimal. I would imagine that my compression concerns for NO RESERVATIONS will be addressed on Blu-ray Disc version due to its higher capacity and overall data throughput.

NO RESERVATIONS comes with a standard talky drama/comedy style sound mix encoded into its 5.1 channels of Dolby Digital. As expected, the forward soundstage is dominant, with the rears primarily delivering ambient sound and some musical fill. Fidelity is just fine, with the music sound nice and the sound effects being convincing. The bass channel really never anything to do. Dialogue is warmly recorded and easy to understand. French and Spanish 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene/episode selection and set up features, as well as a segment of Unwrapped from The Food Network that focuses on NO RESERVATIONS.

NO RESERVATIONS is a palatable romantic drama/comedy that one will want to nibble on, but isnít the most satisfying main course. As for the DVD, the compression could have been better, so one may want to look into the HD release as a tasty alternate.


No Reservations (2007)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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