Film Review: Gravy

Cannibal killers invade a Mexican restaurant and torment the staff and patrons in this broad but not particularly funny comedy/horror picture.
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It's Halloween night, and Raoul's restaurant is jumping...well, not really, but owner Chuy (stand-up comedian Paul Rodriguez), long-suffering cook Yannick (Lothaire Bluteau) –in a toque and white jacket, of course–and spunky, football-jerseyed waitress Kerry (Sutton Foster) are on duty, serving a handful of costumed customers. They include the pathetic Bert (Ethan Sandler)–in a powder-blue ’70s prom tux–whose girlfriend just dumped him for another woman; mouthy Winketta (Precious star Gabourey Sidibe); mean-girl Cricket (Molly Ephraim), decked out in a pageant gown complete with "Miss Behavin" sash; and regular-guy Anson (Michael Weston), who's floating on the high of having just had a moment with adorable gas-station-mart girl Bethany-Lynn Goulsby (Sarah Silverman). In another kind of movie, the stage would be set for a long, sad night of shared tales of heartbreak and disillusionment.

But that's not this movie: Here a trio of costumed sociopaths–sexy cat girl Mimi (Lily Cole), Robin Hood-type Stef (Jimmi Simpson) and clown Marty (director/co-writer James Roday)–bust in, weld the doors shut and announce their intention to kill and eat everyone inside. Eek.

Horror comedies are a tough balancing act, and cannibal comedies tougher still: Rare successes like Paul Bartel's mordantly amusing Eating Raoul (yes, like Raoul's) are outnumbered by lead balloons like 1973's Cannibal Girls, notable primarily for being exhibit A in the argument that if future Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman and soon-to-be “SCTV” stars Andrea Martin and Eugene Levy couldn't make a comedy about human-flesh-chomping funny, maybe you should think twice about trying.

Gravy delivers a handful of snappy lines and model-actress Cole (The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus) is a slinky delight, especially in the scene in which she parses the power of affecting a sexy English lilt... the joke being that she really is English but can switch to flawless flat-American in the blink of a cat's eye. But overall it's the kind of movie best suited to group viewing with an open bar: It's a trifle much improved by company and Coronas.

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