Movie Review - Eat With Me

George Takei (left) and Sharon Omi in 'Eat With Me'
Writer-director David Au has adapted and made a feature-length version of his own short film Fresh Like Strawberries, which focused on a middle-aged, Asian woman caught between her annoying husband and her son who recently came out as gay. This film expands it, so that we delve more into the life of the gay son who runs a small, Chinese restaurant in Los Angeles. The story kicks off with the wife leaving her husband and staying in her son's apartment until she decides what she wants and really who she is.

Sharon Omi stars as Emma, the middle-aged, Asian woman in question. She wakes up one morning and just feels so disconnected from the man sleeping next to her, Ray, played by Omi's real-life husband, Ken Narasaki. It's not just Ray's snoring or his rank removal of his wedding ring. Those are just symptoms of something inherently or deeply wrong, something Emma recognizes, so she packs a bag and leaves.

Teddy Chen Culver co-stars as Elliot, the adult son in question. He hooks up with a blonde beefcake, Austin, played by Burt Grinstead, who doesn't like the food that Elliot makes and who has no interest in being exclusive. When Elliot hooks up with another guy, a British musician named Ian, played by Aidan Bristow, we see that Elliot's response is indicative of a guy who has constant one-night-stands not by choice, and how this could affect his dating behavior.

Nicole Sullivan (MADtv) plays Maureen, the next door neighbor of Elliot. She's a yoga instructor and fun, blonde chick who notices Emma and befriends her. Despite Emma's insistence that she doesn't drink or do drugs, Maureen gets Emma to loosen up. Emma isn't homophobic, but Maureen helps her to get more comfortable with her son's sex life. Maureen becomes a good and funny go-between in that regard.

When it comes to a story about an Asian mother and her gay, adult son, this film isn't as compelling as Hong Khaou's Lilting. This film doesn't develop the complications as well. Her homophobia almost comes out of nowhere. Au does plant the seed for it, but then just drastically turns it up toward the end for some obligatory conflict because this film is devoid of conflict for the most part.

It allows for the introduction of George Takei playing himself, but it's not enough. Her scenes with Maureen should address the issue more, but her scenes with Maureen are more comic relief like her accidentally swallowing an ecstasy pill, which isn't mined for as much comedy as it could have.

Scenes with Elliot should have addressed the issue more, but her scenes with Elliot are more about showing food porn. Au has a lot of shots of food in frying pans. The money shot is of course watching Takei chow down. This is fine, but I would have loved a bit more development of that. It's not like a Chinese version of The Hundred-Foot Journey where we don't get into the style or craft of Elliot's cooking. We do get a brief history of his restaurant. It was his uncle's place and, we assume that his parents helped him and specifically his mother passed on a lot of recipes, but that's only called out once briefly. More could have been made of that.

Three Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but for mature audiences.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 35 mins.

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