THE MENU – Review by Susan Granger

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Undoubtedly one of the most bizarrely absurd thrillers of the year, The Menu skewers pretentious ‘foodies’ and the ‘fine dining’ they crave.

A group of privileged epicureans pay $1,250 per person to travel to a windswept coastal island in the Pacific Northwest for what they believe will be a unique gastronomic experience at an exclusive restaurant called Hawthorne, run by world-renowned Chef Slowik (Ralph Fiennes).

The story follows star-struck gastronome Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) & his last-minute date Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy), along with their fellow diners: an unnamed aging action star trying to resuscitate his career (John Leguizamo) & his assistant Felicity (Aimee Carrero); restaurant critic Lillian Bloom (Janet McTeer) & her editor Ted (Paul Adelstein); ultra-rich Anne (Judith Light) & Richard (Reed Birney) Liebrandt; and a trio of insufferable tech workers (Rob Yang, Arturo Castro, Mark St. Cyr).

Their culinary adventure begins as they’re met at the dock by unflappable Elsa (Hong Chau), who gives them a tour of the self-sustaining grounds as she escorts them to the café: fish are fresh out of the sea, vegetables harvested from the garden and meat slaughtered/smokehouse-cured from their own herds. The staff live in spartan crew quarters, while Chef dwells alone in a separate, off-limits bungalow.

Hawthorne’s lavishly molecular tasting menu is built around the Chef’s food philosophy, which he explains in fervent detail as patrons watch how his staff meticulously measures, chops, sautés, swirls, constructs and garnishes each course – from amuse-bouche to breadless bread plates to dessert.

As the evening unfolds, there are many unexpected, unduly malevolent surprises for the stunned guests as multi-layered secrets are revealed and tension mounts.

Scripted by Seth Reiss and Will Tracy, this dark comedy is directed by Mark Mylod (“Succession,” “Game of Thrones”) who hired Dominique Crenn, chef at San Francisco’s three-Michelin-starred Atelier Crenn, to create the elaborate menu. The actual dishes were assembled by Kendall Gensler, a New Orleans food stylist whose task was to make them look appetizing and freshly-plated after hours of filming.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Menu” serve up a sinister, satirical 7, streaming on Prime Video, HBO Max, Vudu and RedBox.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.