It's been 20 years since the Sarah Michelle Gellar comedy Simply Irresistible was released. The film, made by husband and wife team Mark Tarlov and Judith Roberts, has very lofty if ultimately mostly unsatisfied goals. It tells the story of an unskilled chef (Sarah Michelle Gellar) trying to keep her late mother's restaurant afloat, with the help of a magic crab (no, seriously). She falls in love with a department store executive (Sean Patrick Flanery) and begins cooking delicious meals that are imbued with her own emotions.
Both actors likely chose the movie specifically to break out of the action or horror roles they'd become established in with a fun romantic comedy. But whatever their ambitions with Simply Irresistible, the overstuffed plot and underwhelming dialogue or character development certainly didn't satisfy it.
Still, with our love of witchy vibes and Buffy the Vampire Slayer here at SYFY FANGRRLS, we decided to give it the Deja View treatment.
1. The movie opens with a song called “Little King” by the Hollowbodies that I feel like I’ve both never heard and also heard every single day of the '90s.
2. Sarah Michelle Gellar has red hair in this. It’s like she’s splitting the difference between Buffy and her Cruel Intentions character.
3. SMG starts off her visit to the farmer’s market by having a vendor throw free produce at her, baseball style. She also never actually buys anything from her.
4. Oh my gosh! This movie employs one of my favorite magical realism tropes: the random mysterious magic dude who sets things in motion. This guy is dressed as if he sprung for the young Dan Akyroyd package. Plus he's just giving out crabs apparently. But like the good kind.5. SMG’s chef character tells him she wouldn’t know what to do with a crab. She’s a CHEF! Okay, she’s apparently supposed to be a bad chef, but still! Boil water, insert crab, add butter!
6. Sean Patrick Flanery is her love interest, and this movie came out the same year that Boondock Saints did. Is it possible they both took this gig because it required far less cardio than that or Buffy?
7. SMG tells SPF that he doesn’t look like he’s in the restaurant business, because he’s wearing a suit. Meanwhile, she has only bought crabs she didn’t want and some raspberries. She even had to make up the name of a crab dish because she doesn’t know how to cook them. Maybe not the best judge of who does what in the restaurant business?
8. Patricia Clarkson is A.) inexplicably in this, and B.) just hardcore slut shamed Amanda Peet’s character who she also maybe just met?
9. SPF has a scientific formula devised to show that happiness drops after the third date, a plot device almost certain to disappear entirely from the story. He’s also trying SO hard to do neurotic romantic comedy guy, and it is just not working.
10. He also has an obsession with paper airplanes including software to design the engineering schematics.
11. Did they film these restaurant kitchen scenes in someone’s apartment?
12. SMG has pouted more in the first twenty minutes of this movie than she did in seven seasons of Buffy.
13. Okay so the plot elements so far are: mysterious slightly creeper guy, food that transfers SMG’s emotions, a magic crab, SPF’s algorithm for proving that dating is cursed after the 4th date, plus an obsession with paper airplanes, and there’s a Rube Goldberg machine for adding an olive to a martini in SMG’s restaurant. Did they just say yes to every single idea that came to mind?
14. “You’re like a man, you think with your nuts” is like they just decided “Insert crude comment here” until the moment they said “Action.”
15. Nolan telling SMG that men think about sex 238 times a day, and she’s shocked. It’s not clear in this scene if SMG has ever heard of men before.
16. A half hour in and we finally got an “Oh, the pretty woman is such a klutz” moment.
17. SPF just threw a paper airplane right into an employee’s hair and didn’t apologize or even acknowledge it. Sorry peasant, your boss is too busy flirting.
18. There is no consistency in this movie! SMG went from awkward shy girl to an enticing sex pot drawing SPF across the room with a wave of her finger and a stare. Where did this “one good sexual thought takes at least 20 minutes” lady come from?
19. Oh okay, random fantasy dance interlude shoved into a non-musical movie. Take that, La La Land.
18. Henri Bendel’s fictional grandson, SPF’s boss, haaaates him. How did they pitch this movie to the store? Hey, we want to honor your brand by talking about how much better this guy thinks he can do than it can.
19. SMG invites SPF to her restaurant for dinner, and he tells her he has a late meeting, for no reason. Arrives even later inexplicably. There’s literally no reason for him to have lied, and then SMG is all “It’s okay, I understand.” Do you? Please explain.
20. Do magic crabs not need to be fed? Do they not need water?
21. SPF is “tasting” SMG by running his fingers across her face and then licking them. Was this supposed to be hot!?
22. Might be more invested in this side plot of SPF’s head chef quitting over knives if the chef had been any sort of character in this movie up until now. But then again neither lead has a personality written for them so what hope do side characters have?
23. Legitimately starting to get worried about the ethical ramifications of pastries that make you so horny you’ll steal them from customers in your store or bang your boss in an elevator. (But, Patricia Clarkson: get yours, girl.)
24. Both SMG and SPF’s characters are struggling to understand the plot of the movie they’re actually in until they just give up and start tasting each other again.
25. So, SPF is mad at SMG because they started floating while kissing and he’s supposed to be a jerk here but then he says they’re talking about his free will... Which is a perfectly reasonable thing for him to be upset about in a movie where a tasty food makes you wanna bang someone you just met. Still, just the amazing leap that he’s gone through into deciding that she’s a witch who's casting curses is astounding.
26. Another scene of two characters struggling to understand the premise of the movie they’re in.
27. All the issues of this movie aside, SMG’s coat game is strong.28. Oh, of course, SMG gets hired to replace the temperamental chef when he quits.
29. “You’re not going to do anything funny tomorrow, are you?” - Don’t worry, not a chance of that in this movie, SPF.
30. SMG thinks her magic cooking happened because she put in her mom’s old earrings and that’s supposed to sound crazy. In the movie where it’s a magic crab.
31. I just realized I don’t remember the last time we saw weird shopkeeper guy.
32. Seems super late in this movie to suddenly introduce a testy underling French sous chef antagonist, but here we are.
33. “I have completely lost the plot.” You and everyone watching it, SPF.
34. This movie thinks a room full of people crying into their dinner plates is a novel idea like they’ve never been to a Denny’s or something.
35. I don’t know who the “this food is a poem” guy is but he looks like John Malkovich wearing a Vincent D’Onofrio suit.36. “Everything you’re feeling is going into your food, nobody is leaving, it’s irresistible!” I know for a fact that when that line was written someone leaned back from the page and applauded themselves for bringing it all together.
37. Wait, sorry, this is her dessert? Just a piece of fruit sitting in some sauce? Fine dining is a scam.
38. So the big payoff of the paper airplanes thing is just that he throws one into her cab window to get her attention? He knows where she lives and works! Dude, just go get her!
39. Okay, now the jerkish French sous chef is hitting on the magic crab.
40. I think this old MGM musical-style ending might be more fun if SPF hadn’t said verbatim earlier: “I want it to look like an old MGM musical.”
41. Okay, apparently I’m a sucker for a crab in a tuxedo because now I want one as a pet.
42. Oh, mystery shopkeeper is back as the bandleader! I’m actually mad at myself for noticing him out of focus in the background.
43. I have so many more questions. Is her own restaurant saved? How long do magic crabs live for? Will SMG still cook well when the crab is dead? How much money did Henri Bendel get in their defamation suit?