Cook Off! is a mockumentary starring an ensemble of talented actors and actresses. Originally filmed in 2007, it only received widespread release last year courtesy of Lionsgate. So, how does this long-shelved comedy taste?


This movie tells the story of several constants aiming to win a cooking competition. Most of the socially dysfunctional players are introduced in the film’s first act, and this chunk is spent establishing each character’s story and support group. Two sisters, the Minnesota twins Sharon (Cathryn Michon) and Pauline Solfest (Wendi McLendon-Covey), are more organically linked together due to their familial ties, though all of the characters meet and interact with each other when the contest begins. Melissa McCarthy’s character, the painfully insecure Amber, debuts here.

Unfortunately, the film’s cast never coalesce or interact in any entertaining ways. Sharon’s future husband Lars, portrayed by Gary Anthony Williams, frequently assures fellow attendees how he’s excited for when he and his soon-to-be wife finally get intimate. He’s later persuaded to attend a gay bar over halfway through the movie, abruptly making him discover he’s gay, a revelation that neuters Sharon’s performance during the finals. Amber is frequently panic stricken as she attempts to make her dish, only to get disqualified for dropping her desert. Jennifer Elise Cox plays the socially stunted Cassandra Dougherty, whose pent-up aggression against her doting mother (Christine Rose) finally explodes.

All of Cook Off!’s concepts are never realized in any noteworthy ways, nor do they evoke any laughs. The character arcs have the potential to be interesting, but that would require analyzing these facets and joking about them in novel ways. Cook Off! instead is satisfied to merely leave its roster as one-dimensional, clichéd caricatures. Other characters, such as the contestant who begins entering labor during the finals, is done in a tasteless slapstick way.

Cook Off!’s special features are as bland as the film itself. The most interesting component is the 14.28-minute special feature where various cast members discuss their experiences on the film. Also included are bloopers and deleted scenes, as well as a few trailers for other Lionsgate films.

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