Netflix Nightmares #1 – Love’s Kitchen
Editor’s note: spoilers, obviously. As if you care.
It’s a “Just Nuts” film. It starts with chives, and quenelles of what looks like fish paste. There is a jus and some griddled tomatoes on the vine. “Real food, with real heart”, says somebody, over a title card that reads “Loves [sic] Kitchen”. No apostrophe.
Penis joke. Some heavy handed shots of a woman in a car driving dangerously. She’s talking on the phone. “Don’t run, you’ll have an accident!” says Dougray Scott in the kitchen to his mate. Bam. Accident. Black and white photos of woman, white jar of ashes… mobile phone. What? Sad Dougray Scott. Sad piano music. Sad kid, too. And now GORDON RAMSAY’S HERE. I mean, literally. Gordon Ramsay is here. Oh, and it’s three years in the future. Dougray Scott is still f*cking about with piddly little puddings, only now he’s very, very grumpy, and less good, and he hates critics. Gordon Ramsay doesn’t understand what’s happened to Dougray Scott. He might frown, but it’s hard to tell.
A thin girl and an old bloke are in a room. Cut to Dougray Scott, in another room. This is a kitchen. He gets some fish pies out of the microwave. Cut back to the thin girl. She’s a critic, and she’s going to, er, write a guide book to chefs. The old bloke is going to Spain.
Cut back to Dougray Scott. And now Gordon Ramsay is having a go at him. Gordon Ramsay is an atrocious actor. “Real food, with real heart – does that ring any bells? What would your wife think if she was alive? She would be horrified,” he says, emphasising each word like he’s giving dictation to a class of eight year olds. It takes a special sort of anti-talent to be playing yourself and still not be convincing.
Cut to Simon Callow, playing a drunk man. He may be a food critic, but chiefly he’s a drunk. What are you doing, Simon Callow? You’re a well-respected man! Cut to Dougray Scott and the thin girl in a pub together. “I’m selling the pub,” says the landlord, “A chef needs to buy it.” “You can’t sell the pub!” says the thin girl. “I’m a chef,” says Dougray Scott. “I make real food with real heart.”
Dougray Scott agrees to buy the pub. Dougray Scott is chopping some vegetables, with angry passion. Dougray Scott is making real food with real heart for his child, a round-faced and exceptionally under-talented teenage actress, and a sidekick in a grey hoodie. “That’s real food with real heart,” says the sidekick. They smile.
The thin girl is talking to her friend. “How is your divorce?” says the friend, expositionally. There is some more awful dialogue (“I’m going to set my dogs on you”), the gist of which is that everyone wants to shag the thin girl, except her ex-husband, who is gay, or bi, or something. There are some jokes about this.
The sidekick takes a trifle (made by Dougray Scott) to a burger van. The burger van man loves it. The burger van man agrees to come and work in Dougray Scott’s new pub. “Your mum loved this pub,” says Dougray Scott to his round-faced child. I want to kick the round-faced child, hard, in the shins. Dougray Scott unpacks his wife’s ashes; the photos; the mobile phone.
(There’s some kind of subplot going on between the sidekick and Michelle Ryan. “Do you want to give my arse a good squeeze to see if it’s ripe?” she asks. Everybody looks a bit shocked.)
The old bloke, on his way to Spain, stops off at the pub to let Dougray Scott know that he disapproves of his plans for the pub. “I’ll disembowel you with a church spire,” he says. I’m willing to bet he’s got a heart of gold. “Blah blah, Health and Safety Gestapo, watch out for rats”, says someone from the Department of Ham-Fisted Foreshadowing. Elaborate montage. The pub is charming. There are little bowls of sea salt and black pepper on each table. There is a chalkboard with food on it. The round-faced child says “I now declare the Boot open!” and everyone cheers.
Two old gentlemen come into the pub. “I’ll be jiggered!” says one. They do not like Dougray Scott’s real food with real heart. They would like a Ploughman’s Lunch, please. The round child brings them some trifle. “Try some!” she says, all beams. “Don’t want to,” says the old man. The round child cries. The old men eat some trifle, and then they come, spasming into their old man corduroys, because the trifle is so good. At least, that is what I assume they are doing, because dear God, the noises they make. It’s real trifle with real heart.
While the old men eat their trifle, there’s a squeal of brakes and the thin woman comes into the pub. Dougray Scott gets very angry at her for driving fast, and by way of apology brings her some celeriac rémoulade. That is a pitiful excuse for an apology. Celeriac rémoulade is, as the editor of this publication just shouted from the other room, “the Anne Widdecombe of tartar sauces”. However, she likes it. The round-faced child brings the thin woman some trifle. “I couldn’t possibly,” says the thin woman. But she does, and like that tart in The Matrix Reloaded, absolutely comes everywhere. “That’s one sexy pudding,” says the thin woman to Dougray Scott.
There’s a few odd scenes that I don’t quite seem to be following. A man in purple paisley pyjamas tries on the knickers of a sleeping lady, and wakes her for his “morning ride”. Later he notices the thin woman’s bottom, and falls in the mud. It is jolly funny. The thin woman writes a review of the restaurant. “Please, Daddy, let her publish her review,” says the round-faced child. Daddy lets her publish her review.
The thin woman snoops about in Dougray Scott’s bedroom. She is very curious about the altar to his dead wife. The thin woman reads a bedtime story to the round-faced child, which is almost as lazy a way as I can think of to imply a Developing Relationship. It’s second only to thin woman wakes up on a sofa, with Dougray Scott stroking her hair, which is what happens next. What happens now, Dougray Scott? What happens when you really fancy a thin woman, and you’re still carrying your wife’s ashes with you everywhere you go? What Dougray Scott does is take his dead wife’s ashes on a picnic. Two glasses of wine – one for him, one for the ashes. There’s a sunset. It would be touching, if it wasn’t such a waste of wine.
Thin woman, Dougray Scott and the round-faced child are cooking real food with real heart together. “Let me teach you how to use a knife,” says Dougray Scott. “Let me teach you how to use a knife. You have such beautiful hands.” This is exactly as creepy as it sounds.
(Sidekick creeps along the corridor preparing to shag whatshername. He has teddy-bear pyjamas on. “Get inside, you lovely big berk!” shrieks Whatsername. Surprisingly, nobody wakes up.)
And then- Simon Callow pulls up. His car numberplate is “LUV GRU8”. He’s drinking a Bloody Mary. What’s the betting that the round-faced child will force him to eat trifle?
Simon Callow and Dougray Scott have a hug. What? I thought Dougray Scott hated critics. This has literally been hammered home in every single scene of this pitiful, smug excuse for a film. Coincidentally, Simon Callow is also hammered, even though it’s breakfast time. So they’ve hired a massive bruiser to keep him sober, and to turn up at the pub in a week’s time, because we all know that forcing an alcoholic to go cold turkey by threatening him with a black eye is the only way to go. “A glass of wine the moment I finish,” says Simon Callow, and everybody nods.
A rockstar arrives! You can tell he’s a rockstar, because he arrives in a helicopter, and wears sunglasses. The helicopter lands on the old man’s croquet lawn. The two old men who came in their trousers are back at the pub in tuxes, talking about Dougray Scott’s blackened butter with their flat caps on. I am waiting for one of them to say “real food with real heart”, but nobody does. The success! The success! It’s such a glorious success!
Obviously though, because it’s such a success, the old man, and the man in the purple pyjamas start plotting to take it down. “Operation RAT-atouille,” says Purple Pyjamas, brandishing a bag with a big dead rat in it. Purple Pyjamas slinks into the kitchen, only to find thin woman and Dougray Scott getting hot and handsy on the oven. “This is an outrage!” says Purple Pyjamas, doing some kung fu, and going away again.
The next place thin woman and Dougray Scott choose to get it on is the old man’s house. “I’m still his little girl, so shhh,” says thin woman. This does get weirder by the minute. Some jangly guitar music plays. Fade to blackout. There are 32 minutes left of this film.
She gives him three stars out of his five for his shagging, and tells him it’s a compliment, because a talented amateur is better than a porn star, or something. I don’t know. There’s only so much slurping in the dark I can take. Cut to Purple Pyjamas, painting himself green. “I’ll give him the boot,” he says, which is a clever pun on the name of Dougray Scott’s pub. “I think there’s someone outside,” says the round-faced child, and is roundly ignored.
You know who I’m starting to miss? Gordon Ramsay, that’s who. Where’s he been for the last hour and forty?
Old man is sitting at the kitchen table of his small palace, ranting about Dougray Scott. “Any chance of a boiled egg?” he calls to his wife, who ignores him. “Have this instead,” says his slinky thin woman daughter. She feeds him some of Dougray Scott’s trifle. “My god,” says the old man. “My god. This is good trifle. You’re happy here.”
And then- bam. Everything comes down all at once. Health and Safety appear! There’s rats in the kitchen! The police come to raid them for weed! Purple Pyjamas turns up with an order from the council to shut them down, and a pair of the thin woman’s knickers! It turns out that the thin woman wrote the review that made Dougray Scott hate critics!
Dougray Scott and thin woman have a big, big fight. He sits at his wife’s altar, and wishes he hadn’t chucked her into a field. It’s your own fault, mate. It’s your own fault. “Why are you fighting with thin woman?” asks the round-faced kid. “Grown-ups fight. Come and hug me,” says Dougray Scott. “Bite me,” says round-faced kid. Frankly, round-faced kid, I feel the same.
While everyone is doing a montage, thin woman turns up at court, in place of her dad, and to give back her stolen pants to Purple Pyjamas. There’s a tussle. “You must close the restaurant because of the Hell’s Angel!” says Purple Pyjamas. “What Hell’s Angel?” says thin woman. I agree with you, thin woman. What Hell’s Angel? Anyway, everything’s a disaster, and a familiar numberplate pulls up outside. It’s Simon Callow, the Love Grub. Sober. And the pub’s a f*ckshow.
What now? MONTAGE NOW. Go, Dougray, go! He’s making a celeriac rémoulade for Simon Callow. Simon Callow loves a celeriac rémoulade. Simon Callow loves wine more. Simon Callow starts to twitch at being this close to a glass of wine. The bruiser they’ve hired to keep him sober lunges. Simon Callow!
“I’ve finished!” says Simon Callow, and knocks back a bottle of wine, and feeds some trifle to the bruiser. Is there anybody in this film who hasn’t fed someone else some trifle? Real trifle, with real heart. And now… someone else is pulling up! It’s the famous Hell’s Angel! It’s… the thin woman’s mum, maybe? “The pub is saved! Thin woman saved your pub! She still loves you!” says the thin woman’s mum. “Go now!”
Everybody looks pleased. Dougray Scott gets in his car, but it’s going to be too late, so he does some dangerous driving. But Dougray Scott hates dangerous driving! Dougray Scott hates dangerous driving slightly less than he hates letting thin women get away from him. Dougray Scott kisses the thin woman. They fade to black and white, just like the photos of Dougray Scott’s dead wife.
Credits roll. Credits roll. Real credits, with real heart. ‘Gordon Ramsay’ is spelt wrong.
And then… surprise Ramsay! Fourth-wall-breaking Ramsay! He does a swear, because that’s what Gordon Ramsay does, and then it’s really the end. Thank Christ. Thank Christ.