THE MENU is a deeply satirical thriller that is now out on HBO Max in the US. The movie already received a lot of publicity after screenings at film festivals. Completely understandable, as it is razor-sharp and offers many surprises. Read our The Menu movie review here!
THE MENU is a thriller that is satirical and sharp in its social commentary. Parallels can very easily be drawn to other forms of art than food – the obvious one is, of course, movies – and this obviously gives the movie a wonderful edge. A very meta experience if you watch it like that.
We are served (pun intended) an ensemble cast, where we are introduced to a multitude of characters played by wonderful and well-known actors. You can enjoy yourself – regardless of whether you yourself visit gourmet restaurants or not.
Continue reading our The Menu movie review below and find it on HBO Max in the US and on Digital from January 3, 2023.
A very special menu
In The Menu, we begin by following a young couple, played by Anya Taylor-Joy (Last Night in Soho) and Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies). They are waiting for a boat that will take them – along with a group of strangers – to a small island, where they will all dine at a very exclusive restaurant.
At the “Hawthorne” restaurant they will be served a menu created by the renowned chef, Slowik (Ralph Fiennes). The guests have to go through a series of dishes that tease and challenge them. In the beginning, it’s all done in a whimsical (and perhaps a little on-the-nose) way. However, from course number four it becomes more intense (and violent).
At face value, The Menu is a satirical thriller that pokes fun at the world of gourmet restaurants, critics, “foodies”, and their guests in general.
Among these guests, we find characters played by a number of fantastic actors. On this very special night at Hawthorne, we meet Janet McTeer (The Woman in Black), John Leguizamo, Judith Light, Reed Birney (The Hunt), and as the head waiter, we get Hong Chau (Watchmen).
Might as well be about the movie industry
Although The Menu is a satirical thriller that focuses on the world of gourmet restaurants and their patrons, it could just as well be the movie industry and film fans.
We get all the same “characters” in both food and film; The film critics who either seek to praise or destroy an artist’s work. And the various kinds of “fans” like The Connoisseur, who probably has to tell everyone else how the movie should really be seen and understood. What they understand and feel is a fact to them.
You know, the kind of person who goes to the movie theater constantly but can never remember a single movie. And certainly never how it made them feel. The cold distant way of relating to someone’s artistic expression.
On the other hand, we get those who go to a movie theater, because then they can say they’ve watched the movie. Even if they leave the theater ten times or check their phone nonstop. Something they somehow always think no one else notices. Well, either that or they don’t care.
The same goes for The Menu, where some of the guests go to this extremely expensive restaurant because money is no object. They go because they can and then, then can say that they’ve gone plenty of times. But ask them to mention one dish or anything about the experience (apart from the facts anyone could read online) and they come up short.
You can watch The Menu on HBO Max in the US now!
The Menu is directed by Mark Mylod, who has also directed numerous episodes of the HBO Max Succession series. In addition, Mark Mylod has also directed Game of Thrones, Entourage, and the rebooted Amazing Stories on Apple TV+.
The screenplay was written by Seth Reiss and Will Tracy, both of whom have worked a bit in comedy. Fortunately, this is something that appears in a way that bears comparison with Jordan Peele. Humor is used in an extremely dark and satirical way as social commentary. And it is damn efficient as such!
Personally, I am the kind of person who enjoys both gourmet and a delicious burger, just as much as I like to watch both Oscar-nominated “indie films” and the horror movies that any “film critic” would frown upon. Of course without having seen the movie, because that kind of “fodder” isn’t accepted as actual filmmaking.
Yeah, you’ll recognize the type really fast. Both from restaurants and movie theaters. I wonder if fans of genre films (and good food) will be able to see even more nuances than some of the critics who only stick to one type of movie or food. I actually think so. As a fan of genre movies and series, you should definitely not rob yourself of this experience.
The Menu is released on HBO Max and Digital in the US on January 3, 2023. It will also be coming to Disney+ in many other countries on January 11, 2023.
Director: Mark Mylod
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Fiennes, Janet McTeer, Nicholas Hoult, John Leguizamo, Judith Light, Hong Chau, Aimee Carrero
The Menu tells the story of Margot and Tyler, a young couple, who travel to an elite, remote, coastal island in order to dine at an exclusive restaurant where a mysterious chef has prepared a lavish, expensive menu. But it soon becomes clear that the pretentious, pampered dinner guests are about to be served some shocking surprises.