The Kitchen is a film that sounds good on paper, but winds up being a train wreck of epic proportions.
Set in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan, the story centers on three women who are married to Irish mob members: Kathy Brennan (Melissa McCarthy) and her husband, Jimmy (Brian d’Arcy James), have two children. Jimmy is a nice man and eager to leave the business. Ruby O’Carroll (Tiffany Haddish) is married to Kevin (James Badge Dale), heir to the empire. He is the son of Helen (Margo Martindale), a formidable and intimidating individual in her own right.
Claire Walsh (Elisabeth Moss) is married to Rob (Jeremy Bobb), an abusive man. One night while committing a convenience store robbery, FBI agents Silvers (Common) and Martinez (E.J. Bonilla) arrest them and the trio are sentenced to three years in the big house.
While Kevin is in prison, Little Jackie Quinn (Myk Watford) is tapped to oversee the mob. He promises the women that they will receive financial support in the interim. His word ends up being worthless, as a woefully inadequate amount is subsequently disbursed to them.
Unable to survive, the women ask Jackie for additional funds but he angrily denies their request. Backed into a corner, they stumble onto some interesting information: even though local businesses faithfully pay the mob protection money, they have seen precious little happen under Little Jackie’s leadership.
Sensing an opportunity, the women begin collecting the protection money and actually deliver on their promises — endearing themselves to the community in the process. They are assisted in this endeavor by Kathy’s cousin, Duffy (John Sharian), and his friend, Burns (Brian Tarantina).
When word of their operation reaches Little Jackie, he has the men beaten and tells the women their time on Earth is limited. Instead of retreating, they fight back and seek to consolidate power before their husbands finish their respective sentences.
Given The Kitchen’s plot similarities to 2018’s Widows (which I dearly loved), I expected something along those lines. However, the film was anything but similar. The gratuitous violence was quite off-putting and truly lessened the experience for me.
Widows had violence, but it was done in a tasteful manner and there was a large psychological component to the story. The Kitchen is crass, basic, and devoid of any meaningful substance. It’s a tragic outcome, especially considering the stellar cast. What a severe disappointment.
I give The Kitchen two out of five stars.