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The Hundred-Foot Journey: Blu-ray + Digital HD Review

The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014) movie poster The Hundred-Foot Journey

Theatrical Release: August 8, 2014 / Running Time: 122 Minutes / Rating: PG

Director: Lasse Hallström / Writers: Steven Knight (screenplay), Richard C. Morais (novel)

Cast: Helen Mirren (Madame Mallory), Om Puri (Papa Kadam), Manish Dayal (Hassan Kadam), Charlotte Le Bon (Marguerite), Amit Shah (Mansur Kadam), Farzana Dua Elahe (Mahira Kadam), Dillon Mitra (Mukthar Kadam), Aria Pandya (Aisha Kadam), Michel Blanc (Mayor), Clément Sibony (Jean-Pierre), Vincent Elbaz (Paul), Juhi Chawla (Mama Kadam), Alban Aumard (Marcel), Shuna Lemoine (Mayor's Wife), Antoine Blanquefort (Thomas), Malcolm Granath (Swedish Chef), Abhijit Buddhisagar (Baleine Grise Porter), Rohan Chand (Hassan Kadam - 7 years old)

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Two of the longest and most widely trusted names in the world of entertainment, Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey,
come together in film for the second time on The Hundred-Foot Journey. He isn't directing and she isn't acting. Instead, they are two of the three producers of this crowd-pleasing adaptation of Richard C. Morais' bestselling 2010 novel.

It tells the story of the Kadams, an Indian family who loses everything in a fire, including their restaurant business and their matriarch. The family looks for a fresh start in Europe, testing Rotterdam and near Heathrow Airport in London, before giving the French countryside a try. There, thrifty Papa (Om Puri) finds what he thinks is the perfect place to open an Indian restaurant. As it turns out, the space is a mere 100 feet across the street from Le Saule Pleureu, a popular Michelin-rated restaurant.

Thrifty Papa (Om Puri) sees potential for a family restaurant in this abandoned spot in the French countryside. That isn't music to the ears of Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren), who owns the posh restaurant across the street.

Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren), who manages the decorated French restaurant with an iron fist, is not thrilled by the Kadams' plan. She is not concerned by the competition, but is worried that having an eyesore in such close proximity could diminish her establishment's carefully-cultivated charm.

Against the odds, the Kadams open Maison Mumbai. Finding diners with an appetite for the restaurant's spicy, authentic dishes is a bit of a challenge and made tougher by Madame Mallory, who enters into a war of legal measures against the Indian family and is not above such tactics as buying up all of the ingredients their menu requires from the nearby marketplace.

Acting as peacemaker between the rival neighbors is Hassan (Manish Dayal), a young man who has inherited his late mother's culinary flair and is Maison Mumbai's head chef. An act of arson creates an opening for head chef at Le Saule Pleureu, which Madame Mallory fills with Hassan. This creates some resentment between the young man and Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon), the restaurant's sous chef and his love interest. After flourishing under Madame Mallory with his unconventional use of exotic spices, the world becomes Hassan's oyster and Paris' trendiest hot spots come calling for him, to his father's reservations.

In "The Hundred-Foot Journey", Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal) begins cooking for his family's rival restaurateur, Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren).

The Hundred-Foot Journey may not sound all that interesting in synopsis, but it makes for respectable and enjoyable feel-good cinema. It's unclear who deserves the most credit for the results. The marketing emphasizes Spielberg and Winfrey, but that might just be because they are more famous and successful than anyone else involved. It's worth noting that Spielberg is credited as producer, a title he usually only takes on films he also directs, rather than the more typical executive producer. That suggests a greater degree of involvement than he has taken on movies like Transformers, Real Steel, Cowboys & Aliens, and Men in Black 3.
The same is true of Winfrey, who has previously lent her name to projects that could use it (e.g. Precious) without necessarily being involved in their creative decisions. Bonus features imply both of these rich and powerful impresarios kept their distance from the production.

It's reasonable to assume then that screenwriter Steven Knight and director Lasse Hallström are more personally responsible for the film's considerable appeal.

Around the turn of the century, Hallström, a Swede who got his start shooting ABBA music videos, emerged as one of Hollywood's most prestigious filmmakers, having helmed back-to-back Best Picture nominees in The Cider House Rules and Chocolat. Since then, his career has regressed, as he's directed not one but two Nicholas Sparks adaptations. While both 2010's Dear John and 2013's Safe Haven performed well at the box office, the former was tolerable and the latter was one of last year's most atrocious films (don't let its shockingly strong IMDb user rating fool you). Hallström's other recent work includes would-be awards contenders that didn't take off (Casanova, The Hoax), the puzzling triple Golden Globe comedy or musical nominee Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (another movie overrated at IMDb), and Hachi: A Dog's Tale, a film that improbably ranks among the 200 greatest movies ever on IMDb's Top 250 list despite going direct-to-video in North America. It's not exaggeration to call Hundred the most gratifying film Hallström has made in a very long time and maybe ever.

The UK's Knight is enjoying a little bit of a resurgence. Following a six-year hiatus, he returned to prominence last year, both writing and directing the coolly-received Jason Statham movie Redemption and the more highly regarded Tom Hardy vehicle Locke. His Hundred screenplay is fairly predictable and at times contrived, but it manages to develop characters you care about.

Once Helen Mirren signed on, the filmmakers were free to assemble a cast of unknowns around her. Though her recent track record is fairly spotty, Mirren is still one of the few actors whose presence instantly implies a certain degree of clout. Hundred may not have other celebrities to advertise (it avoids even casting any of the few Indian actors you'd recognize from movies like Slumdog Millionaire and Life of Pi), but the fresh faces work to its advantage. Even if the story is nothing you haven't encountered before, the cast performing it, save for Mirren, is almost entirely anonymous to the typical viewer, which adds some interest and novelty to the presentation.

Hassan's hire puts a damper on his potential romance with French sous chef Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon).

From its release on August's second weekend to a marketing campaign that placed purple text against a yellow backdrop, Hundred evoked a previous Touchstone/DreamWorks literary adaptation, The Help. That 2011 film managed to achieve great success, beginning as a word-of-mouth hit, proceeding to become a domestic blockbuster, and ending up with four Academy Award nominations including a Best Picture nod and a Supporting Actress win.

Hundred did not follow that course to the T. Its reviews were positive but not nearly as enthusiastic. The business was good, the leggy $54 million gross registering as one of the year's best for an under 2,500-theater release. Still, it was a far cry from the $170 M haul of The Help, whose budget was only a few million higher. Furthermore, Hundred's award season prospects seem pretty slim. There's a decent chance it could show up in one or two of the Golden Globes' rarely competitive Comedy or Musical categories (most likely Mirren for Lead Actress). But no studio seems to be mounting any Oscar campaign for the film, which hits home video at a time when the serious contenders are just opening or expanding in theaters.

You can find The Hundred-Foot Journey in stores beginning Tuesday, with Disney making it available on DVD and in the Blu-ray + Digital HD edition reviewed here.

The Hundred-Foot Journey Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.40:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish),
Dolby Surround 2.0 (Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: December 2, 2014
Suggested Retail Price: $36.99
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Blue Keepcase with Side Snap
Also available as DVD ($29.99 SRP) and on Instant Video


The Hundred-Foot Journey looks as good as a new movie bearing Steven Spielberg's name should. The Blu-ray's 2.40:1 transfer is suitably sharp and vibrant, showing off the sunny, scenic photography with nothing worse than some minor focus issues that seem inherent if not deliberate in the cinematography. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio mix is not especially remarkable, but it is lively and crisp. The film does not subtitle any of its French dialogue, letting you figure it out either by context or, more commonly, with a spoken English translation.

Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey seem happy to reunite as co-producers nearly thirty years after he directed her in "The Color Purple." Lasse Hallström is seen directing Amit Shah in making-of featurette "The Recipe, The Ingredients, The Journey."


The Hundred-Foot Journey is treated like a Spielberg-directed film on home video, with the Blu-ray passing on deleted scenes and audio commentary in favor of a few HD featurettes.

First up, "The Hundred-Foot Journey with Steven Spielberg & Oprah Winfrey" (12:14) sits down the two famous producers for a discussion of their first collaboration since The Color Purple nearly thirty years ago.
They speak of the movie in general terms, suggesting neither was very involved creatively, though Spielberg at least mentions he discovered Charlotte Le Bon doing costumed weather reports on French TV and chose Lasse Hallström to direct on the basis of his 1985 Swedish film My Life as a Dog.

"The Recipe, The Ingredients, The Journey" (16:06) is the true making-of featurette. It looks at production in detail from various perspectives, including author Richard C. Morais (primarily a journalist), third producer Juliet Blake (who optioned Morais' book), and director Hallström. With talking heads and good behind-the-scenes footage, it covers such topics as filming locations, production design, costume design, visual effects, the food, photography, and the score by -- who else? -- A.R. Rahman. This solid piece is easily the most valuable of the extras (which is good news for DVD viewers, because it's all they get on that edition).

Oprah Winfrey's set visit largely consists of posing for photos with the cast. Chef Anil Sharma, the film's Indian food consultant, shows you exactly how to make this coconut chicken dish he proudly displays.

"On Set with Oprah Winfrey" (3:53) finds the influential TV host touring the set and appreciating the details.
She comes across as kind of patronizing and a photo opportunist, but those are just some of the perks of celebrity producing.

Finally, "Coconut Chicken" (5:09) lets Indian food consultant Chef Anil Sharma walk us through the simple making of a savory looking dish. It's a fitting inclusion, though one that could have used a corresponding recipe screen.

Like a new Spielberg-directed film, The Hundred-Foot Journey is not joined by trailers for this or anything else.

The main menu loops a score excerpt and film clips that play in a circle surrounded by a kaleidoscopic border. The disc does not resume playback, but it does remember where you left off on the film, which paired with the lack of trailers makes resuming a breeze.

Sporting a plain blue label, the disc is held in a side-snapped case that is topped by no slipcover. The only insert supplies directions and a code for downloading the iTunes format downloadable digital HD copy included with your purchase.

Though Papa (Om Puri) tries to fight it, Hassan has made him proud of his boy.


The Hundred-Foot Journey is a film that many will like, some will love, and few will hate.
This highly appealing and flavorful enough drama may not make an indelible impression on you, but it will make you smile even as it plays out to expectations.

This Blu-ray contains a great feature presentation and a solid 35 minutes of extras. It's the type of movie you could recommend or gift to just about anyone regardless of their tastes, without the possibility of disappointing or offending them.

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Related Reviews:
New: The GiverInto the Woods (Original Broadway Production)| Written by Steven Knight: Dirty Pretty ThingsEastern Promises
Directed by Lasse Hallström: The HoaxDear JohnMy Life as a DogCasanovaAn Unfinished Life
Helen Mirren: The Last StationArthur (2011) • The QueenTeaching Mrs. TingleNational Treasure: Book of Secrets
August Movies: The HelpJulie & JuliaEat Pray LoveLee Daniels' The Butler
India: The LunchboxMillion Dollar Arm3 Idiots | Food: RatatouilleBabette's Feast

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Reviewed November 30, 2014.

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Amblin Entertainment, Harpo Films, and Touchstone Home Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.