Simply Irresistible (1999)

Simply Irresistible (1999)

Taglines: Magic opened up their hearts… Love did the rest.

Amanda Shelton (Sarah Michelle Gellar) inherits her late mother’s restaurant, but lacks her mother’s ability to cook. The restaurant is failing when Amanda meets a mysterious and possibly magical man at the local market. He introduces himself as Gene O’Reilly and claims to be an old friend of her mother’s. He sells her crabs, one of which escapes cooking to become her personal mascot.

Amanda meets her love interest at the market, Tom Bartlett (Sean Patrick Flanery), a department store manager at Henri Bendel on Fifth Avenue, who is opening an ambitious new restaurant inside his store. It is never explicitly explained why, but this eventful day transforms Amanda into a miraculous food magician; people who now eat her impressive new dishes start feeling exactly what she was feeling when she was making the dish. These are inspired by her emotions and created with the help of her magic crab.

Amanda saves her restaurant overnight, and her relationship with Tom blossoms just as fast. However, Tom, being a career-minded control freak, panics when he realizes that not only could she be a witch who could be casting spells on him, but that his own emotions are getting the best of him, and he promptly dumps her.

Simply Irresistible (1999)

When Amanda goes to confront Tom one last time at his office, she witnesses the violent tantrum and resignation of a celebrity French chef hired for the opening of Tom’s new restaurant. When it is discovered that Amanda is in fact the hot new chef in town everyone is talking about, she is hired on the spot, despite Tom’s protests.

Simply Irresistible is a 1999 American romantic comedy film starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and Sean Patrick Flanery. It was directed by Mark Tarlov and was written by Judith Roberts. The film opened at #9 at the North American box office making $2.2 million USD in its opening weekend.

Film Review for Simply Irresistible

In movies as in the kitchen, good intentions simply aren’t enough. The director or cook can toss in all the traditional ingredients, but if the talent and magic aren’t there, the souffle sags.

So it is with ”Simply Irresistible,” which takes Sarah Michelle Gellar of television’s ”Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and drops her into an even more harrowing situation: chef in the Southern Cross, the failing 70-year-old TriBeCa restaurant she has inherited from her mother.

What Judith Roberts as writer and Mark Tarlov as debutant director apparently have in mind here is a throwback to the romantic comedies of the 1930’s and 40’s, when suave, handsome men with playboy social lives fell head over heels in love, much to their surprise, with some poor working girl who never believed she could enchant such a prince.

Simply Irresistible (1999)

That is basically the plot of ”Simply Irresistible,” which even tosses in Christopher Durang as Gene O’Reilly, the mysterious Cupid who enables Ms. Gellar as Amanda Shelton to meet Sean Patrick Flanery as Tom Barlett in a Manhattan Greenmarket, thanks to an elusive crab. The supercilious Barlett is a Henri Bendel executive in charge of building and opening the Fifth Avenue store’s lavish new restaurant, Jonathan’s, named for his boss and aspiring to four stars with the aid of a temperamental French chef.

Cupid, as a taxi driver, will see to it that Bartlett, whose dates never survive beyond three outings, is eventually diverted to the Southern Cross, where Amanda, facing the demise of her restaurant, will suddenly blossom into a chef whose food is capable of reducing diners to tears of joy and heights of ecstasy, sexual and otherwise. Of course, as romance between Amanda and Tom heats up and curdles (only temporarily), a crisis will develop in the restaurant just before opening night, when the critics will be turning out to render judgment.

It is a measure of the shortcomings of this genial, well-meaning but ultimately unenchanting film that scene after scene is stolen by the second bananas: Larry Gilliard Jr. as Nolan Traynor, Amanda’s wise, upbeat, funny sous-chef, and Patricia Clarkson as Lois McNally, Bartlett’s clearsighted aide, who has her cap set for the big boss, Jonathan Bendel (Dylan Baker).

Ms. Gellar is appealing as the self-doubting Amanda; Mr. Flanery, who used to portray the young Indiana Jones, sometimes resembles the young Laurence Harvey without the unwaveringly confident ophidian charm, and the food looks luscious. But ”Simply Irresistible,” for all its fantasy and magic, isn’t magical.

Simply Irresistible Movie Poster (1999)

Simply Irresistible (1999)

Directed by: Mark Tarlov
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Sean Patrick Flanery, Dylan Baker, Patricia Clarkson, Christopher Durang, Larry Gilliard Jr., Betty Buckley, Amanda Peet, Alex Draper
Screenplay by: Judith Reberts
Production Design by: William Barclay, John Kasarda
Cinematography by: Robert M. Stevens
Film Editing by: Paul Karasick
Costume Design by: Janie Bryant
Set Decoration by: Justin Scoppa Jr.
Art Direction by: Beth Kuhn, Caty Maxey
Music by: Gil Goldstein
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief sexual references.
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: February 5, 1999