Simply Irresistible

on February 05, 1999 by Annlee Ellingson
   For her first leading role in a feature film, Sarah Michelle Gellar wanted to tackle something a bit different from her butt-kicking character on TV's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Unfortunately, "Simply Irresistible" is more of step back rather than a step in another direction.
   Rooted in the tradition of classic Hollywood romances, "Simply Irresistible" plays matchmaker with a couple who couldn't be more different. Amanda (Gellar), a chef with little talent, struggles to support her late mother's restaurant, while Tom ("Suicide Kings'" Sean Patrick Flanery) is embarking on a high-stakes gamble, establishing a five-star restaurant on the top floor of the Manhattan department store he works for. Through the mischievous meddling of a laughable magic crab, Amanda magically transforms into a magnificent cook, blending her emotions into her delicacies a la "Like Water for Chocolate."
   The result, however, isn't nearly as poetic. Like the '40s romances it tries to emulate, "Simply Irresistible's" leading lady falls head over heels for her man, but she has to trick him to fall in love with her. Namely, Amanda's provocative food intoxicates Tom, even to the point that he accuses her of being a witch. (Tom's the type of guy, you see, who ends all of his relationships after the third date, before he starts to lose control and fall in love.) You wouldn't know that Amanda's food is that good, though. Drab dialogue like "This is very good. This is very, very good" fails to evoke the passion supposedly infused into her cuisine.
   Even more appalling is Amanda's relationship with her culinary creations: She simply doesn't eat. Throughout this film devoted to food, Amanda takes just one or two bites. In other words, her role is to cook, not to consume. This representation of how a woman should relate to food--coupled with the fact that Amanda doesn't get credit for crafting the amazing menu that saves Tom's restaurant when his testy (male) head chef quits--is a direct challenge to what Gellar's "Buffy" character embodies. Here, Gellar's a lady in the worst sense of the word--using her feminine wiles to land a man--rather than an independent, sometimes impetuous, always integral role model.    Starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and Sean Patrick Flanery. Directed by Mark Tarlov. Written by Judith Roberts. Produced by John Fiedler, Jon Amiel and Joe Caracciolo Jr. A Fox release. Romantic comedy. Rated PG-13 for brief sexual references. Running time: 97 min.
Tags: Starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and Sean Patrick Flanery. Directed by Mark Tarlov. Written by Judith Roberts, Produced by John Fiedler, Jon Amiel, Joe Caracciolo Jr, Fox, Romantic comedy

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