Films that place more of an emphasis on lovingly photographing culinary treats over anything else are often tagged "food porn," and The Hundred-Foot Journey is the latest example of this mouthwatering sub-genre. But if towering works like Babette's Feast and Eat Drink Man Woman register as the James Deen and Jenna Jameson equivalents, then this new picture (produced by the dynamic duo of Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey) comes across more like its Ron Jeremy, clumsily getting the job done but best ignored in the long run.
The veteran Indian actor Om Puri plays Papa, who, following the death of his wife, relocates his family from Mumbai to Europe, finally settling on a small village in France. There, he opens an Indian eatery, ignoring the fact that it's directly across the street from a Michelin-starred restaurant run by the fussy Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren). Naturally, these two will squabble until the plot requires them to soften up, and just as naturally, there's a budding romance between one of Papa's sons (adorable Manish Dayal) and one of Madame Mallory's cooks (equally adorable Charlotte Le Bon).
It's all very predictable but also all very pleasant, at least until the movie makes a wrong turn by shuttling a character off to Paris, where he learns (just like Dorothy!) that there's no place like home. The clunky Parisian sequences disturb the heretofore graceful flow of the piece (a guest appearance by Ratatouille's Remy might have helped), but all is not lost. Even at the very end, director Lasse Hallstrom never stops arousing our taste buds with succulent shots of orgasmic eats.