PARK CITY 2000 REVIEW: "What's Cooking?" Serves up Mild, Cross-Cultural Laughs

by Stephen Garrett

(indieWIRE/01.22.00) --
Uncommonly warm winter weather in Utah set a mild tone
for the opening night of the 2000 Sundance Film
Festival, which waltzed into the new millennium with
the world premiere of Gurinder Chadha's "What's
?", a gentle, very funny but flawed
multi-family, multi-ethnic Thanksgiving comedy-drama
set in Los Angeles.

Julianna Margulies (l), Lainie Kazan (c), and
Kyra Sedgwick (r) star in Gurinder Chadha's "What's

"It's a celebratory film," explained Sundance
co-director Geoffrey Gilmore in his introductory
comments before the packed audience in Salt Lake
City's Abravanel Hall. Co-written by the UK-based
Chadha with her husband, L.A.-born Paul Mayeda Berges,
the film, said Gilmore, was the first
British script to be invited to the Sundance
Institute's Screenwriter's Lab
. He also made light of
its British roots - the seventh Opening Night film in
ten years to have some relation with England. "It's
like a mini sub-tradition
that we have a British connection in the Opening Night
film," Gilmore joked.

Yet "What's Cooking?" is thoroughly American in its
kaleidoscopic view of cross-pollinating cultures and
beliefs. Simultaneously following four different
families - the Williams (African-American), the
Nguyens (Vietnamese), the Avilas (Latino), and the
Seeligs (Jewish)