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New Line Home Cinema presents
Dinner Rush (2001)

"When did eating dinner become a Broadway show?"
- Rick (John Corbett)

Review By: Dan Heaton   
Published: January 22, 2003

Stars: Danny Aiello, Edoardo Ballerini, Vivian Wu, Kirk Acevedo
Other Stars: Mike McGlone, Summer Phoenix, Sandra Bernhard, Mark Margolis, John Corbett
Director: Bob Giraldi

Manufacturer: Wamo
MPAA Rating: R for language, some violence, and sexuality
Run Time: 01h:38m:37s
Release Date: January 21, 2003
UPC: 794043610523
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- B+B+A- D

DVD Review

Life appears rosy for Italian restaurant owner and bookmaker Louis Cropa (Danny Aiello). All types of chic patrons flock to Gigino's and delight in the culinary creations of his son Udo—one of the rising chefs in New York City. They spend tremendous sums of money on this nouvelle cuisine that bares little resemblance to traditional Italian fare. Sporting rich, complex sauces and fancy titles, the food pleases its customers but does little for its owner. During another hectic evening amid the Dinner Rush, tumultuous events may change Louis' life forever.

Director Bob Giraldi possesses considerable knowledge about this corner of the restaurant business. In fact, this film was actually shot at his own establishment. He intimately depicts the chaotic kitchen's inner workings as the staff labors frenetically on each dish. The servers scramble between tables and remain calm even while facing the most irritating guests. Giraldi effectively captures the energy and difficulties of pleasing discerning customers who expect a perfect atmosphere. The camera places us inside the action and nicely combines the elegant food with the kinetic working environment.

The central story concerns the murder of Louis' bookmaking partner by two gangsters and their intrusion into his life. Carmen (Mike McGlone) and his hulking associate are trying to attach themselves to the restaurant, and Louis wants no part of it. Unfortunately, complications arise due to the gambling debts of Duncan (Kirk Acevedo), who works in the kitchen. He owes the hoods plenty of money and may face serious bodily harm. While the evening progresses, they continue to press Louis on the issue, which leaves him few options.

While the basic plot is fairly conventional, the true allure stems from the film's lively collection of supporting characters. During a brief power outage, the bartender earns cash by betting that no one can stump him on any subject. This lively exchange does nothing to further the story, but it adds some much needed enjoyment. Another memorable individual is Fitzgerald (Mark Margolis), an art dealer who enjoys tormenting his waitress, Marti (Summer Phoenix). He speaks in a slow drawl and spouts condescending attitudes about virtually everything in sight. Margolis wonderfully grasps the core of the obnoxious dinner patron, who fails to realize his nature due to the server's stiff lip. John Corbett also does a nice job as Rick—a mysterious gentleman eating alone at the bar.

Dinner Rush glides so fluidly through its 98 minutes that we almost forget about the central premise. When we reach the surprising conclusion, everything ties up well and reveals some extra complexities. The emotional core remains with the main characters, especially Louis and Udo, whose differences come to the forefront. The popular chef may bask in the glory of being constantly labeled a genius, but he also conveys a human side that makes him more accessible. While enjoying the shots of sumptuous dishes, we also become involved with the characters. This balance can be difficult, and the screenplay falls short several times, but it never loses the audience. Bolstered by a score of excellent performances, the story overcomes any minor shortcomings and becomes a charming experience.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - P&S
Original Aspect Ratioyesno

Image Transfer Review: Dinner Rush utilizes an impressive 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that presents a clear, colorful picture. Few defects are significant patches of grain appear during the presentation. The sumptuous plates leap from the screen and help to create a hunger-inducing tone. The only drawbacks stem from the dark, interior setting of the picture. The limitations of this atmosphere deliver fewer majestic shots than some epic outdoor pictures. On an overall scale, this transfer is solid throughout the film, but it falls a bit short of reaching the highest level.

This release also offers the option of watching the film in a full-frame version. I have no problems with this inclusion, as it assists viewers who dislike the black bars on the screen. Unfortunately, the pan & scan version lacks the clarity and depth of its widescreen counterpart.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: This disc features a 5.1-channel Dolby Digital audio track that draws us right into the frenetic kitchens. The camera moves quickly throughout the restaurant, and the noises easily flow across the sound field. The dialogue is clear and easily understandable throughout the picture, and the lively score keeps everything moving nicely. While not a booming transfer, this track contains enough power to provide an enjoyable presentation.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 20 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: unknown keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Dinner Rush's lone extra feature is the original theatrical trailer, which appears in a decent 1.85:1 widescreen transfer. The preview nicely summarizes the basic plot elements while capturing its energetic style.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

Dinner Rush initially appeared at several film festivals near the end of 2000, and received a limited theatrical release during the following year. However, this gem failed to reach many viewers across the country. While lacking in extra features, this DVD should give the engaging story new life on the small screen.


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