Review: “The Menu” is serving dark comedy with a side of charm

Review: “The Menu” serves dark comedy with a side of charm

Mark Mylod’s latest film unveils the horrors of the restaurant industry in the new thriller.
Published: November 28, 2022
The Menu still
Mark Mylod’s "The Menu" premiered in theaters on Nov. 18.

Mark Mylod’s The Menu represents the dream of oh-so-many service industry workers — one instance of showing the worst customers how spoiled they really are. Filled with its fair share of horror elements and tied together with working-class solidarity, it pairs nicely with the timely holiday sale shifts many will endure this season.

The head chef and restaurant owner Julian Slowik, delightfully played by Ralph Fiennes, dishes out line deliveries seemingly made to be quoted by underappreciated staff everywhere. His mannerisms are uniquely blended, keeping even his most grand gestures tightly choreographed under his collar, the rehearsed statements and blocking of any service worker going through the motions.

Anya Taylor-Joy as Margot Mills prepared much of the same, delivering the film’s dark comedy in a different flavor as she finds herself far out of her depth with what is, perhaps, the worst imaginable date with Tyler, played by Nicholas Hoult. Hoult, who hams it up as the foodie dragging Margot out to a lavish dinner, provides much of the humor as one of the most distasteful people she has ever met.

While the film serves one set as the entrée for most of its runtime, it captures the feeling of a bad date wonderfully within those walls with a tightly written screenplay. Every character is served just enough time to shine as they receive their just desserts.

While this review was initially going to contain a negative mention of the frayed edge of Margot’s costume without providing too meaty of a spoiler, those concerns were addressed. Yet, another example of how tightly produced the film is in its sub-two-hour runtime. It never overstays its reservation, providing palette cleansers with small breaks from the brewing tension for well-plated humor.

There is one unavoidable, spoiler-ridden rat in the room. The film’s excellent moody lighting and subtle sound design could not hide the film’s unmistakable reheating of a plot point from Ratatouille. I whispered it over to a friend the moment this plot thread began, and we shared a laugh when the film’s final, greasy bite confirmed it. This does not sour the film as a savory dark comedy but remains noticeable nonetheless.