Monday, September 26, 2011

Movie with Abe: Toast (Capsule Review)

Directed by S.J. Clarkson
Released September 23, 2011

If there’s one thing that everyone should be able to agree on about the new film ”Toast,” it’s that it’s mouth-watering the whole way through. As Freddie Highmore’s Nigel and Helena Bonham Carter’s Mrs. Potter compete to whip up the most appetizing-looking dishes on the planet, the winner is the audience, provided that there’s a meal anywhere near as delicious on the horizon following the 96 minutes of this film. Unfortunately, what you see isn’t what you get, and the film, presumably unlike its food, looks much better than it tastes. The biographical tale of famed food writer Nigel Slater’s upbringing isn’t nearly as interesting as those behind this film seem to think, and its presentation is entirely hokey and excessively exaggerated. Perhaps it’s deliberate that the visualizations of food seem to almost pop off the screen while the rest of the film’s images and backgrounds are rather dreary and one-note, but that definitely underlines the film’s tendency to lag anytime food isn’t in the oven. Freddie Highmore’s growth spurt doesn’t seem to have graduated him to adult roles, and he’s much more awkward and stuffy than nearly-uncredited first-time twelve-year-old actor Oscar Kennedy, who portrays Nigel for over half the film. Carter does her very best to infuse Mrs. Potter with some life and energy, but it’s hardly her best performance either. The film presents an entertaining premise and an alluring plot, but it never achieves what it sets out to, finishing out with nothing aside from a bunch of appetizing menu items.


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