Scott Marks 9 a.m., Dec. 18
The Hundred-Foot Journey
Noted down-home small-towners Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey produce traditionally minded director Lasse Hallstrom's (Chocolat, The Cider House Rules) film version of Richard Morais' novel about a displaced Indian family ("There was an election of some kind.") who decide to open a restaurant in a French village, right across the street from a staid Michelin one-star joint run by a flinty widow (Helen Mirren). Oof. The food is, of course, suitably gorgeous (like the French countryside, like the young stars Manish Dayal and Charlotte Le Bon); all brightly colored and richly textured and artfully presented. But the story is not really about the food, and not at all about the real workings of the restaurant business and/or being a chef, any more than, say, Robin Hood is about sound tax policy. The characters here exist for the plot, and the plot exists for swooning sensuality, adorable romance, and warm feelings about our shared humanity. Even a moment of ugliness is merely an occasion for more sweetness. 2014.