The Kitchen: Don’t Provoke the Mother

In 1978, three Irish mobsters are caught up in an FBI sting. When their income is cut off, the three mobsters’ wives take matters into their own hands after being first ostracized and then attacked by their husband’s cronies. In The Kitchen, Melissa McCarthy’s Kathy Brennan, Tiffany Haddish’s Ruby O’Carroll, and Elisabeth Moss’ Claire Walsh decide they’re done relying on men to give them what they need or taking a beating for things they have no control over.

Slow-burning and gritty, the film plays out like an old school mobster movie, but somehow, it never gets into the nitty-gritty of how the women feel about their change in status and responsibility. While another mobster’s wife praises them for their Gertrude Stein movement, Claire points out that she wouldn’t have gotten where she did without Domhnall Gleason’s intervention as Vietnam vet Gabriel. In the end, the women certainly prove they can do it on their own, but along the way, they don’t seem fully liberated from the boot of their male mobster oppressors.

While Moss has already proven she has the stuff for serious roles, the film gives Haddish and McCarthy different material to work with than audiences are used to. Even if the script doesn’t seem fleshed out enough to provide the punch the film should, the acting is solid – and I’ll hope for something more for the three women down the road. (Margo Martindale and Bill Camp are terrific in their brief scenes, but that’s to be expected.)

Special features include “Running Hell’s Kitchen” and “Taking Over the Neighborhood.”

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