Check out all Not-So-Secret Santa reviews at the Cinematic Katzenjammer.
Gigino is no ordinary Tribeca Italian restaurant: it is owned by Luigi Cropa (Danny Aiello) the patriarch of a mob family. Luigi’s brother is murdered on the school run two weeks before Christmas – I see what you did there, Secret Santa – and the rival bookmakers behind it later show up at the restaurant looking for Luigi’s son Duncan who has gambling debts. Duncan (Kirk Acevedo) is working in the kitchen and begins a cat-and-mouse game to escape the gangsters. Add to that a packed restaurant, a police detective invited to dine by Luigi himself and a host of diners ranging from demanding to downright annoying who may have a hidden agenda, and the tension is explosive. Something is going to happen. The question is what, when, and more importantly – who.
I enjoyed the contrast between the mafia plots and the festive atmosphere of a busy restaurant: jazzy music, good food and trivia entertainment from the barman, all the while feeling someone would not walk out of there alive. Director Bob Giraldi makes the viewer part of the action: except for the few scenes outside the restaurant, you might as well be a member of staff alternating between the lazy festive pace of the dining space and the rushed atmosphere of the kitchen, complete with close ups of chefs and food. The food… did I mention the food? This is not a film you can watch on an empty stomach. There’s so much footage of the cooks whipping up delicious-looking dishes that I almost forgot to guess which characters might be implicated in the inevitable massacre.
Dinner Rush keeps you guessing. I have to admit it’s not the kind of film I usually choose as they make me nervous, like the situation could explode anytime… and it is very well done in that respect. The family dynamics between Luigi and his two sons were well-acted and added a touch of normalcy (what do you mean your family Christmas doesn’t involve murder and millions of dollars?) Still, I was kind of wondering where this was going after an hour or so and whether someone would finally punch Fitzgerald who thinks he can get free everything because he waited 45 minutes. Never go to Comic-Con, Fitzgerald. I was trying to figure out where the film was going and well, I didn’t. I won’t spoil it too much for people like me who may have missed it or been 10 years old when it came out, but let’s just say it’s very satisfying when all the pieces of what’s been going on all evening finally click together. One thing though. When you own a restaurant and a seedy bookmaking business you should definitely know that revenge is a dish best served cold.
Overall, Dinner Rush was intense and I’m glad I ended the year on something different. Thank you, Not-So-Secret Santa and now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go raid the kitchen.