Dinner Rush

Rated: R
Stars:   Danny Aiello, Edoardo Ballerini, Vivian Wu, Kirk Acevedo
Director:   Bob Giraldi
Writers:  Rick Shaughnessy and Brian S. Kalata

Last year it was You Can Count on Me as the low-budget miracle movie. This year the honor goes to Dinner Rush. The miracle comes from the fact that the caliber of these films far exceed their budgets. Dinner Rush presents a tasty story, full-bodied characters, a terrific cast and enough energy to fill it’s 98-minute running time with complete satisfaction. If I compared it to a Thanksgiving dinner, I’d have to say you’d be stuffed, content and ready for bed.

The film is set during a single day and almost entirely inside a New York City restaurant, the Gigino Trattoria, a cozy Italian eatery owned by sometime bookie Louis Cropa (perfectly played by Danny Aiello). Louis’ son, Udo (Edoardo Ballerini) is the restaurant’s hot-shot chef who has replaced the traditional fare that Mama used to make with gourmet nouveau dishes that his father abhors. Louis’ troubles revolve around Udo’s constant demands to take over ownership of the restaurant, and the compulsive gambling of sous-chef Duncan (Kirk Acevedo), who’s been having an affair with head waitress, Nicole (Vivian Wu), with whom Udo is also enamored.

Complications set in when Duncan’s indebtedness results in the appearance during a busy dinner rush of two low-life loan sharks out to collect their due and muscle in on Louis’ action.

Helping to keep the action lively are a bevy of well appointed customers: Sandra Bernhard plays a powerful and fussy food critic, John Corbett is good as a Wall Street investment banker who chats it up with the bartender, and by far, the best of the lot is Mark Margolis (who you might recognize from TV’s  OZ) as a snobby and sarcastic art gallery owner who takes center table with his guests.

Let’s not forget we’re in an Italian restaurant here and featured among the stories is enough culinary action to set mouths watering and stomachs growling for some fine food and wine when the film goes to black.

Also Features Mike McGlone and Alex Corrado as the loan sharks, Summer Phoenix as Marti, Jamie Harris as bartender Sean. It’s rated R for language, some violence and sexuality.

Lotta says: No arguments at this table, Dinner Rush deserves a toast to a perfect little film!

Reviewed 11/3/01