Simply Irresistible (1999) starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Sean Patrick Flanery, Patricia Clarkson, Dylan Baker, Lawrence Gilliard Jr., Christopher Durang, Betty Buckley, Olek Krupa, Amanda Peet directed by Mark Tarlov Movie Review

Simply Irresistible (1999)   2/52/52/52/52/5

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Amanda Shelton in Simply Irresistible (1999)

Completely Resistible

I have a problem with "Simply Irresistible" as on paper it sounds like a reasonable fantasy rom-com aimed at adults but what is delivered is a daft rom-com which is at a teenage level. It just doesn't work and whilst the storyline which sees restaurant owner and cook Amanda falling for department store manager Tom has the potential to be quite romantic it is handled poorly so the magical intoxicating power of the wonderful food she creates never comes across. In place of what should be a romantic mood we get daft humour, awkward looking crabs and far too much fantasy which doesn't always work with the story leavinging it feeling confused.

Having inherited her mother's restaurant Amanda (Sarah Michelle Gellar - Scream 2) is struggling not only to cook but to also keep the place open. That is until she is not only given a basket of crabs from a mysterious stranger at the local market but she also meets Tom (Sean Patrick Flanery - Mystery Girl) a handsome department store manager. When Tom shows up at her restaurant Amanda suddenly has this ability to create the most amazing food, food so powerful that it can alter your mood and it certainly alters Tom mood as he falls for her. But Tom has commitment issues, he has a rule about 3 dates and despite having feelings for Amanda is scared too commit.

Sean Patrick Flanery as Tom Bartlett in Simply Irresistible (1999)

Right from the opening scene "Simply Irresistible" seems to be conflicted as you have this beautiful set up where Amanda is browsing the food market for produce but yet when she meets the mysterious man who gives her crabs, sorry a basket of crabs, it borders on the corny especially when it comes to innuendo about crabs. And the corny becomes cheesy as we get a very awkward meet cute between Amanda and Tom as she puts her hand up his trouser leg to retrieve a run away crab. It just feels seriously wrong and awkward as if it's unsure who it wants to entertain, young girls who go to watch a movie which stars Sarah Michelle Gellar or young adults wanting a romantic date movie.

The awkwardness of "Simply Irresistible" continues because you get the relationship forming between Amanda and Tom as she wows him with her cooking, which coincides with her getting crabs, I mean the crabs and in particular one which for no apparent reasons she keeps as some form of kitchen pet.

Now here is the thing and the thing which really disappointed me because a movie about food, especially food which is so wonderful it has hidden powers should come across as intoxicating. It should make us fall in love with the way Amanda cooks her wonderful creations instead of them being created in some split second of magic. And yes I know there is this element of magic to "Simply Irresistible" as out of nowhere Amanda becomes this amazing cook but it again feels ever so cheesy and too instant, one minute she is putting Orchid flowers into a dessert mix and then suddenly she has this Michelin looking dish in front of her.

And the awkwardness continues as this relationship grows we also get a magical but rather uninspiring dance scene and a floating on the ceiling scene which sounds as out of place and daft as it is. It's just very wrong and whilst all the time you have the issue of Tom struggling with his commitment issues, trying to resist temptation of seeing Amanda again after 3 dates it plays second fiddle too far too much teenage fantasy daftness.

As such the actual performances generate their own series of issues starting with Sean Patrick Flanery who as the handsome Tom comes over as seriously smug. From the way he goes about his business through to dealing with women he is annoying and patronising and simply too much to the point that as an audience you wonder what Amanda sees in him. Talking of Amanda you sort of end up feeling for Sarah Michelle Gellar because she tries to play Amanda with an adult touch but the comedy and romance she then has to deliver is definitely of the teenage variety. And to be honest whilst there is also Patricia Clarkson, Dylan Baker and Amanda Peet in various roles they fail to be anything more than 2 dimensional background noise.

What this all boils down to is that "Simply Irresistible" comes across as a conflicted and unfocussed movie. The storyline with its food element sounds like something which should be romantic, dramatic, intoxicating and beautiful. But it ends up none of these as the whole thing is dumbed down with a fantasy element which makes it corny and something which appears to be targeting younger audiences. And it is a shame as if "Simply Irresistible" had been made as an intoxicating romantic drama in the same manner as say "Chocolat" it could have been magnificent rather than cheesy.