USCAF Review: Cook-Off!
by Alex Billington
March 2, 2007
(Reviewed during the US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colorado - March 1st.)
In Cook-Off!, Van Rookle Farms hosts a yearly cooking competition, similar to a white trash version of "Iron Chef", and this mockumentary profiles the various contestants and their backgrounds and the fiasco that ensues at the cook off. The concept sounds like it could be promising, but Cook-Off! is nothing more than a bad 10 minute "MADtv" sketch that goes 80 minutes too long. None of the characters are at all reasonable or slightly entertaining, despite being played by most of "Reno 911's" finest. It's just a big unscripted mash-up of poor filmmaking, poor directing, and poor screenwriting - which isn't possible given there wasn't a script.
The filmmaking, directing, and even the story all seemed amateur, like a bunch of improv friends just gathered around drunk for a few days and created this idea and filmed it. Sure I understand its a mockumentary and director Guy Shalem attempted to follow a Christopher Guest style, but why does the camera accidentally tilt up and the rigging can be seen, and why is the boom microphone's shadow covering the faces of certain actors in frame? There's even an unnecessary gay side plot and ridiculous scene at a gay club called "Bananas." The whole movie comes down to one all-out ridiculous fiasco at the events center, and even then it's hardly entertaining. A gave it just a few stars for a couple of chuckles, but this movie is just as painful to watch as it is for the judges in it to eat the terrible creations that these pseudo-chefs make.
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