Second serving of `Soup'

Movie review

October 26, 2001|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

Love enhances the lives of a previously unhappy man and his three previously unhappy daughters.

Thus goes the plot of Tortilla Soup, essentially a remake of Ang Lee's 1994 Eat Drink Man Woman that seems to exist for no reason other than to change the location from China to the United States and the characters' ethnicity from Chinese to Hispanic. Other elements - the rich food, the master-chef father who no longer can taste what he prepares, the mandatory Sunday dinners, the daughters chafing under his control - remain pretty much the same.

Hector Elizondo (marvelous, as always) is the family patriarch whose passions are two: cooking and the welfare of his three beautiful, but not terribly happy, daughters. To ensure that he can stay on top of their lives, he insists they show up for dinner every Sunday. Predictably, tempers run hot.

Just when things look to be spiraling out of control, love starts popping up. Wallflower oldest sister Leticia (Elizabeth Pena), a teacher, spies her school's baseball coach from her classroom window and starts pining away; middle sis Carmen (Jacqueline Obradors) is offered a new job, alongside a handsome, jovial hunk of a boss; and rebellious youngest sib Maribel (Tamara Mello) puts her college plans on hold and moves in with a guy.

Even dad finds himself getting courted, by a hot-to-trot grandma played by Raquel Welch, who has so much fun with her role, it's contagious. In fact, the whole cast is good. It's too bad all that good work isn't in service to a better, or certainly more original, script.

Tortilla Soup

Starring Hector Elizondo, Elizabeth Pena, Jacqueline Obradors

Directed by Maria Ripoli

Released by Samuel Goldwyn Films

Rated PG-13 (sexuality)

Running time 103 minutes

Sun score * *

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