The Kitchen


            Well, we've had lots of movies about men being gangsters, but about women turning into gangsters, not so much.  The premise here is that in the 1970's, in Hell's Kitchen, where the Irish Mob prevails, three thugs got sent to prison.  Their wives were supposed to be “taken care of” by the other guys, but the financial support, it turned out, was negligible.  So, our three women-in-waiting decided to take matters into their own hands.

            The racket here is basically a protection scheme, except some of their regular clients had quit paying because they weren't getting the service they thought they were paying for:  their stores were still being robbed.  So the women let all the street hoods know who's boss.  The three easily re-claim the extortion territory: Claire (Elisabeth Moss) and Kathy (Melissa McCarthy) and Ruby (Tiffany Haddish).  You may have noticed that last one isn't Irish. So yes, there are a few racial dynamics here, but really, it's all about the new sisterhood of empowerment.  Suddenly flush with cash, the ladies start wearing nicer clothes and finer jewelry.  They eat well.  Kathy's kids are doing well in school.  Claire has a new boyfriend.  And they're not so sure they're all that eager for their men to get out of prison and complicate things.

            Of course, things get more complicated on their own.  The Italian Mob over in Brooklyn have taken notice of the change of leadership, and of course they want a piece of that action, as well.  Accomodations will have to be reached, or else.  And of course we get to find out about the “or else.”  The same with an adjoining neighborhood of Hasidic Jews, who, it turns out, are also very interested in who gets the neighborhood construction contracts.

            The current political correctness would demand that we root for these formerly-downtrodden women as they take charge of their own lives.  And we are glad to see an increase in self-confidence.  But at what cost?  They've become completely different people.  To not put a delicate spin on it, they've become hardened criminals themselves.  It's not exactly charming or endearing.

            Yes, we have a nice 70's soundtrack, and we get to see authentic costumes and cars, just for a bit of nostalgia.  But it's not exactly uplifting.  More like a Descent Into Thuggery.  And the viewer is dragged down to the gutter with them.  There are probably better ways to spend those 100 minutes.


Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association