Cook Off! is a 2017 American mockumentary comedy film that was directed by Cathryn Michon and Guy Shalom that centers around a group of quirky people as they fiercely compete in a famed cooking contest for the grand prize of one million dollars. The film features stars like Cathryn Michon, Melissa McCarthy, Louie Anderson, Ben Falcone and Stephen Root.
The film was completed in 2007, but was ultimately shelved without any explanation for a decade. In September 2017, it was reported that Lionsgate Premiere would finally release film, and that they had edited the film prior to release by cutting approximately twenty minutes of footage and adding roughly 22 minutes of previously unused footage. Cook Off! made its worldwide premiere at the US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colorado in February 2007; and was released into theaters and VOD beginning on November 17, 2017.
The Film Itself (2/5):
What did I just watch? Cook Off! was extremely confusing from the get-go because of a lot of issues with the camera work and its attempts at being a mockumentary. We’re given a film that is centered around this infamous cooking challenge where everyone just tosses whatever they can find into a casserole dish to try and make something that works. And even then, everything that is a featured meal item looks absolutely horrendous and intensified as the contestants of the challenge elaborate upon their “signature dishes”. There were some funny moments that made me chuckle, especially some of those moments that involved Melissa McCarthy, and the overall story wasn’t too bad once you got past the Napoleon Dynamite-ish feel that it had.
Picture Quality (3.75/5):
Cook Off! is a film that features a very erratic series of camera movements as they follow the contestants around their cooking stations and as various dramatic event happen at the challenge. The overall movement makes it feel as if it’s one of those found footage films and really lessened the experience. If they wanted to continue with the documentary style theme, they should have stabilized the camera a lot more throughout. Aside from that, when the camera was actually stable, the overall visual presentation of the film was clean, and clear and allowed us to visually see and understand everything as it progressed.
Audio Quality (4.75/5):
Packaged with an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track, Cook Off! does absolutely everything that it can within its power to place its viewers right into the middle of the dramatic series of events that unfold with the tension that accompanies taking part in a cooking challenge like this. Giving the audience not only a considerably clear dialogue so they can hear and understand what’s being said, but a very nicely done musical accompaniment that perfectly conveys what those characters within the film are feeling. The only thing that could’ve been done better with the audio track is if they had gone ahead with a 7.1 audio track; but, considering this film was made about a decade ago, and the overall nature of the film, I can see why they didn’t want to put too much more work into the release.
The Packaging (3/5):
Cook Off! comes packaged in your standard two-disc Blu-ray amaray case. Within that case is the standard Blu-ray copy of the film. There are no DVD copies of the film included with this release. The disc features a piece of artwork that’s relative to the film at hand and matches that of the case art. A digital copy redemption pamphlet has also been included, as well as a slipcover that features the same piece of art that’s featured on the amaray case.
Special Features (3/5):
There are a few additional items that have been included with the Blu-ray release of Cook Off! that offer a small view of what went on behind the scenes, the fun that the cast and crew had during the filming process and some slight expansion on the characters. Sadly, the special features aren’t very elaborate, but they are fun to watch as you work your way through them. Included with this release is:
- Deleted Scenes
- Cook Off: The Ultimate Food Fight
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Original Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
English SDH, Spanish
Original Film: 98 minutes
Overall, I’m really glad that I was given the opportunity to sit down and give Cook Off! a shot as I’m a firm believer of giving every film its chance before passing any kind of judgement. The story that we’re given with this film is one that’s decently done and entertaining throughout. If it weren’t for the extremely shaky camera movements coupled with the considerably gross looking home recipes that the characters threw together as their entries in the competition, I think I would have enjoyed this movie a little bit more. The humor that’s given with this film takes a little to get warmed up to as it’s reminiscent of the style of humor that was used in Napoleon Dynamite. The visual presentation wasn’t too horrible, especially as the camera had steadied itself, while the audio presentation was considerably immersive, clean and clear and allowed my wife and I to hear and understand everything. The special features, while there’s only a few items and that they’re not as elaborate as I would have liked, they were fun. If you’re considering grabbing this film for your collection, I’d wait for the film to go on sale. Cook Off! became available on Blu-ray and DVD yesterday, Tuesday January 16, 2018.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.