Bradley Cooper looks at home in the kitchen in ‘Burnt’

Will the chef replace the superhero as the next big movie craze? Well, no.

But given the popularity of foodie movies and reality-TV chefs like Anthony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsay, we can probably expect more films about high drama in the kitchen. Apparently our appetite for Type-A cooks screaming at their underlings about the amount of tarragon in the sauce has not yet been quenched.

“Burnt” is an enjoyable entry in this subgenre, anchored by a rangy Bradley Cooper performance and marbled with food. If you like money shots of seared beef and chocolate cake, you will not be disappointed.

Cooper plays Adam Jones, a once-famous chef who blew his Paris career on drugs and bad behavior. He’s sober now and trying to regain his reputation in London, where he bulls his way into taking over the kitchen at a hotel managed by an old school friend (Daniel Bruhl, from “Rush”).

Adam assembles a crack staff, including a feisty sous chef (Sienna Miller, Cooper’s “American Sniper” co-star) and a Parisian frenemy (Omar Sy, of “The Intouchables”). Ah, but the master chef remains fond of throwing things across the room when he isn’t perfectly pleased.

Screenwriter Steven Knight (“Locke”) does his usual scrupulous job of filling in all the plot possibilities — sometimes too scrupulous. Emma Thompson has a supporting role as a psychiatrist coaxing Adam into taking better care of himself, and Alicia Vikander (“Ex Machina”) has a brief role as Adam’s ex, who represents a bad time in his life.

Cooper’s strong in the role; he’s already established his chops in parts like this. But unlike Cooper’s frequent collaborator David O. Russell, director John Wells lacks the wild streak that might have truly unlocked this material.

“Burnt” goes along, hits some smart notes, and catches a high-pressure milieu. The one thing that’s unusual about it is the way it allows its protagonist to be a jerk.

Adam has a big meltdown halfway through the film, when his opening night turns into a less-than-perfect affair. Movies tend to be so obsessed with having their heroes be “sympathetic” that it’s refreshing to see one act like an unmitigated monster for a while.

Of course, he’ll learn some lessons along the way — as the current “Steve Jobs” reminds us, unsympathetic heroes will usually get their comeuppance before the fade-out. “Burnt” manages that story line with frequently tasty authority.

“Burnt” (3 stars)

Bradley Cooper gives a strong, rangy performance as a chef mounting a comeback after a drug-fueled flame-out. Lots of a food preparation here, plus a familiar story line about redemption — it’s nicely acted and smartly done, even if it never quite gets loose. With Sienna Miller.

Rating: R, for language

Showing: Alderwood Mall, Cinebarre Mountlake Terrace, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Stanwood Cinemas, Meridian, Sundance Cinemas Seattle, Thornton Place Stadium 14, Woodinville, Cascade Mall, Oak Harbor Plaza

Talk to us

More in Life

Puddum the guinea pig in a Halloween costume. (Jessi Loerch)
Get your guinea pig costumed for trick-or-treat — if you can

Dressing up pets is no longer just for cats and dogs. Rodents can be mermaids and superheroes, too.

Baked apple cider doughnuts. (Dreamstime/TNS)
After you get the apple cider, it’s time to make doughnuts

Cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg usually hold court for that nostalgic apple-cider doughnut flavor.

Woodford Reserve Baccarat Edition, previously only available to overseas travelers, is the most expensive Woodford Reserve ever released, with a suggested $2,000 price tag. (Woodford Reserve/TNS)
Most expensive Woodford Reserve ever released available in US

The Baccarat Edition, previously only available to overseas travelers, has a suggested $2,000 price tag.

USA, Washington, Woodinville. Brian Carter Cellars.
Region’s fortified wines provide sweet warmth on chilly nights

They’re an ideal companion with a fireplace nearby, a plate of hazelnuts and Stilton cheese within reach.

Jim Jamison and Stephanie Schisler wrote and illustrated "What Would I Be If I Couldn’t Be Me." (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Bothell grandfather brews up a children’s book

Bothell’s Jim Jamison, owner of Foggy Noggin Brewing, wrote “What Would I Be If I Couldn’t Be Me?,” and his daughter, Stephanie Schisler, illustrated it.

In a pickle during lockdown? Try this innovative recipe

Coronavirus home cooking is now a part of American life. Sometimes you… Continue reading

Vaccines promise health — and fun — for a family tired of social distancing. (Jennifer Bardsley)
COVID-19 pandemic brings a new appreciation for flu shots

After not leaving the house for weeks, a drive-thu appointment to get an influenza vaccine is an adventure.

Cauliflower steak with bean and tomato salad. (Linda Gassenheimer/TNS)
Trendy cauliflower steak makes an easy vegetarian dinner

Cut a head of cauliflower into 1-inch steaks, add a prepared pesto sauce and let the oven do the rest.

The grille, front bumper, and headlights are newly designed on the 2020 Honda CR-V.
2020 Honda CR-V has styling updates and equipment add-ons

The entry-level LX model joins the other trims with a standard turbo engine and driver-assist technology.

Most Read