Today's Special

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3 out of 5 stars
Today's Special

Food is everything in this admittedly generic culinary drama: a link to homeland and history, an aphrodisiac, an expression of one's head, heart and gut. The gastronomic facts of life come slowly but surely to Samir (Mandvi), a sous chef at an upscale Manhattan eatery who quits after being passed over for a prime promotion. This professional misfire leads him to managing his disapproving dad's run-down restaurant and---after hiring a worldly jack-of-all-trades cabbie (Shah) to help in the kitchen---learning how to cook with improvisatory soul.

Personal doubts, parental expectations and cultural tensions are, naturally, resolved through spicy masala dishes and a budding romance with a former coworker (Weixler). Director David Kaplan (Year of the Fish) doesn't stray from the story's follow-your-bliss formula, relying on lovey-dovey montages, convenient twists of fate and quirky supporting characters---like a plate-spinner played by Wes Anderson regular Kumar Pallana---to keep things pleasantly moving along. An overall lack of adventurousness negates any genuine sense of surprise, but credit this Indian-themed indie for spicing up a familiar and routine dish with reasonably tasty flavor.

See also The Hot Seat

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By: Nick Schager

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