Burnt is a film stocked with big-name talent: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Emma Thompson, Lily James and Uma Thurman. It's about a potentially trendy topic: what goes on behind the scenes at fancy restaurants. (Drugs, violence, lots of F-bombs.)
But is it believable?
Before the movie debuts in wide release Oct. 30, pop culture reporters Britton Peele and Sarah Blaskovich discuss whether Burnt left them hungry for more.
Sarah: So Britton, Bradley Cooper plays Adam Jones, a down-on-his-luck chef who longs to be important like he once was. What about Adam Jones did you like? What didn't you like?
Britton: Oh man, what didn't I like about Bradley Cooper's character? Oh wait, it was 'everything.' Everything was what I didn't like about that dude.
Britton: He's an arrogant prick who mistreats his employees, has back-stabbed his co-workers, isn't willing to accept help or advice from those around him and visits other restaurants just to tell their chefs how much better he is than them.
Which, to be fair, might be an accurate representation of some chefs out there. But he's not somebody I would want to hang out with.
Sarah: I think some of the characters in Burnt could look past his many flaws because he is some kind of culinary genius. Did any of that resonate?
Britton: In my experience as a genius [cough], people don't just fall in love with me because I'm talented. Nor should they. But people -- both men and women! -- kept falling for the guy and I just didn't understand it.
It went beyond the whole "bad boy" thing. Jones is a recovering drug and alcohol addict that, at one point, accosts and physically grabs one of his female employees. Later, he doesn't give her time off to celebrate her daughter's birthday. So how does she respond to those things? She makes out with him! Because of course she does.
Sarah: I also had trouble with Bradley Cooper as some big-name chef. Fans of Cooper might see him as Pat in Silver Linings Playbook or Chris Kyle in American Sniper. Does he look like a chef? Act like one? Eventually, yes, but it took time.
Switching gears, let's talk about the foodie parts of the movie. Even though Burnt is a wide-release film, it's about a pretty niche topic. There was a lot of talk about knife skills and food trends and Michelin stars. Did any of that turn you off since you don't live in the world of restaurants?
Britton: It didn't turn me off, necessarily, but there were a few moments when I felt lost. I almost never eat at fancy restaurants (my writer salary buys me a lot of Chick-fil-A), so a lot of terms, cooking methods and even parts of the dining experience felt foreign to me.
Like, what's a Michelin Man? Is that even a real thing? Was I hearing it wrong? I just kept thinking of this guy:
Sarah: Hah, yes. (Note to readers: The movie was talking about "Michelin men," the anonymous critics who award coveted Michelin stars.) I can understand the frustration and confusion there. For me, I loved how it brought everyone else into the world of cooking. They talked about sous-vide cooking -- a method of steaming food in a water bath -- as if everyone's done it. (No, they have not.)
Sarah: As chef-lebrities and fancy cooking become more alluring to the everyman, it was cool to see an entire movie devoted to the magic and mishaps of a high-end kitchen.
Britton: I think one of the main things that bothered me about Burnt was that I just didn't see the point to it all. There was nothing about the character that made me believe his jerkish-ness truly made him a better chef than everybody else, and any evolution he went through toward the movie's conclusion didn't feel earned.
Sarah: That I will agree with.
Last question: If Adam Jones were a real chef -- and many chefs around the country might see a little Adam Jones in their own top toque -- would you eat in his restaurant? I would.
Britton: I would eat at his restaurant if ...
- It was free or at least inexpensive. I'm a caveman child when it comes to food. Just give me the cheeseburger and fries at a reasonable price and I'm good.
- I didn't actually have to sit and talk with Adam Jones as I ate. I'm sorry, Sarah, but Bradley Cooper's dreamy eyes just don't do it for me.