Soul Kitchen: A Favorite Culinary Comedy Returns From SIFF

This surefire crowd-pleaser from Fatah Akin shares the multicultural German setting of his intense prior dramas (Head-On, The Edge of Heaven), only it's an entirely straightforward comedy. Co-writer Adam Bousdoukos plays a harried, shaggy restaurateur, Zinos, whose rich German girlfriend has just taken a job in China. His eatery, Soul Kitchen, is located in an old warehouse he owns in industrial Hamburg, where food is brutally fried into submission. Zinos stinks of grease, and knows it. Sex via Skype is a hassle, so should he sell the building and fly to join his honey in Shanghai? Before he gets the chance, Akin throws every comic complication in his way: a thieving brother newly sprung from jail (Moritz Bleibtreu); a volatile yet talented new chef (Birol √únel, the star of Head-On); an old friend's sudden offer to buy the warehouse; unwelcome visits from the health inspector and tax collector; and a slipped disc that has poor Zinos groaning and limping through each new misadventure. With its jukebox soundtrack, Soul Kitchen is thoroughly light, enjoyable, and conventional. Early on, chef √únel shows how diner fare and humble condiments can be chopped up, garnished, redressed, and presented as fusion cuisine. The movie performs the same trick. Also: Extra points for the Udo Kier cameo.

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