Jennifer is about to turn thirty and, despite breaking up with her unfaithful boyfriend the morning of her birthday, her roommate is hell-bent on throwing her a party anyway.
The film follows Jennifer (a much-missed Laura Prepon, formerly of That 70’s Show) and her friends over the course of a day, and what it a day it is! Jennifer’s birthday kicks off with the revelation that her longtime boyfriend Paul (Bryan Greenberg) has cheated on her – possibly with several of her so-called pals. Meanwhile Jennifer, despite feeling understandably cranky, is egged on by her hilarious best friend Pam (Catherine Reitman – yes, of those talented Reitmans) to get in the spirit. Jennifer’s got more backup in the form of her caustic sister Penny (the fantastic Dreama Walker, from the recently cancelled Don’t Trust the B… In Apt. 23), who rolls out of bed around 5 pm, still in her pajamas and in no mood to help anyone celebrate. All the while her neurotic roommate, Stan (Matt Bush), flits about as the hostess with the mostess, becoming more worked up as the evening progresses and the party fails to live up to his expectations.
As the day fades into night things get considerably rowdier. Beer, booze, and bands flow through the kitchen as each new arrival brings hipsters galore, brimming with the gift of drama. A pissed-off pal who’s ticked that his band wasn’t asked to play the party? Check. (Band name: Bite My Lip. I’m so stealing that!) An awkward hunk that tries to woo the ladies with magic tricks? Yep, he’s on the guest list. Two besties that backstab the birthday girl? Why not? The reveal of long-held crush and a surprise pregnancy? Sure!
You’d better be getting ready to tell me this evening is going to improve!
Not even Jennifer’s gifts are free from motive, as is evidenced by her friend Kim’s (Pepper Binkley, an Ellie Kemper doppelganger) offering of lavish earrings, which we find were purchased out of guilt. Even Jennifer’s cake comes with the wrong name on it! Could this evening get any worse? You bet it could, with laugh-out-loud consequences.
I’m really surprised this film didn’t make more of a splash. Though it faired well at a variety of festivals (including Austin Film Fest and the Tallgrass Film Festival), it didn’t nab a wide-release. On the one-hand I can see why – the short running time (80 minutes) and the play-like quality (the entire movie takes place in, you guessed it, the kitchen) don’t lend themselves to a typical cinema experience. But the quality of dialogue, humor, and relationships are all things I’d love to see more of on the big screen. Kudos to The Kitchen for packing so much hilarity into one room and one evening, without the side effects of claustrophobia or triteness.
Shots! Shots! Shots! Birthday girl… who?
I really can’t recommend this film enough. Sure, it’s got a few flaws (and a few plot holes). But trust me – you can spare 80 minutes on this delightful cast while enjoying their lively banter and relatable storylines.
Take a Drink: every time someone new pops into the kitchen.
Take a Drink: every time a secret is revealed.
Take a Drink: every time Jennifer suffers a slight.
Take a Drink: every time Stan overextends himself as the host.
Do a Shot: when you spot the stolen restaurant ratings card.