There are certain “best of” movie lists that critics are always asked to compile. Two of the most popular ones are Best Romantic Movies (usually pegged to Valentine’s Day) and Favorite Scary Movies (cue the Halloween hoopla). One perennial list, however, has no holiday to call its own. That would be Best Food Movies, a list that tends not to be especially adventurous because almost everyone can agree, more or less, on the films that should be on it.
There’s Babette’s Feast, the slow-moving but still rather tasty Danish drama that, in 1987, really put the food genre on the art-house map. A little ahead of the curve was Tampopo (1985), the gonzo Japanese cowboy culinary parable about the search for the ultimate bowl of noodle soup. There’s Like Water for Chocolate (1992), another Babette-style fable in which the forces of food represent sensuality, freedom, and the overthrow of stuffed-shirt 19th-century values. There’s that gooey-sweet multinational-Hallmark confection Chocolat (2000), and the movie that a lot of folks, including me, consider the lip-smacking romantic masterpiece of the genre, the great, rich, sad, happy, little-men-making-huge-flavor comedy Big Night (1996). And, recently, there’s the one that proved that the foodie movie could thrive in the megaplex: Julie & Julia, that stirring, stir-the-pot homage to Julia Child and the gourmet revolution to which she lent her face and spirit.
I enjoy some of these films more than others (the overthrow of stuffed-shirt values is, from my experience, a theme that tends to appeal mostly to stuffed shirts), but there’s one crucial thing that they share: They’re all about a quest for food that is special, rarefied, refined, exquisite. What never gets included, perhaps because it barely exists, is a movie about the search for, you know…the ultimate cheeseburgers and fried chicken. And that’s why I loved Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. It’s a film I would now add proudly to that list. READ FULL STORY