Set in 1970s Hell’s Kitchen, New York and based on the DCVertigo comic book title of the same name, “The Kitchen” stars Tiffany Haddish, Elizabeth Moss and Melissa McCarthy as mobster wives who take care of business when their husbands are sent to jail.
McCarthy, Haddish and Moss are Kathy Brennan, Ruby O’Carroll and Claire Walsh, wives of mid-level Irish mobsters. When their husbands are scooped up by the FBI the local mafia boss guarantees they’ll be looked after—“We’re going to take care of you,” Little Jackie (Myk Watford) says. “You girls are going to be just fine.”—but when it comes time to help he gets stingy. “I can’t even make the rent with what they gave me last night,” complains Claire.
With no source of income, the three decide to take matters into their own hands. “They’re just a bunch of guys who don’t even remember what family means,” says Kathy. “So, we remind them.”
Kathy is reluctant to enter the family business, but with two kids to look after she doesn’t have many options. Ruby feels like an outsider in the tightly knit Irish community and needs to provide for herself while Claire takes naturally to the wild ways of the streets. “I’m good at the messy stuff,” she says.
Before you can say, “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse,” the three have taken over Little Jackie’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood with an eye to expanding their empire to the rest of the city, all before their husbands get out of jail.
The powerhouse trio at the center of “The Kitchen” can’t sell the film as an effective mob movie or feminist thriller. The characters are quick change artists, morphing from stay-at-home mob wives to stone cold killer criminals seemingly overnight. It’s jarring as are many of the film’s myriad plot twists and turns. Nothing quite adds up, character or story wise, and what might have been an interesting and timely look at dismantling of patriarchal structures it instead finds its female empowerment within violence.