Caffeine Movie Review

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Subscribe Marsha Thomason
Something's always brewing at the Black Cat Café, or so they say. The advertisers behind the new independent film Caffeine want us to believe there's plenty of activity at the quirky London café. Sadly, it's not so. In fact, it's so boring that even a double-shot espresso isn't strong enough to keep to your eyes open.

Caffeine follows a series of odd events during the lunch rush at the Black Cat Café, where one disaster after another is served up as the day's "blue plate special." For example, the cook (Callum Blue) is fired by the manager, Rachel (Marsha Thomason), after she finds out he's been unfaithful to her. Rachel has no one else qualified to cook, so she throws the chef's hat to a server named Tom (Mark Pellegrino), who can't even make lasagna from a written recipe. But Rachel has no other choices. Her two other employees, Vanessa (Mena Suvari) and Dylan (Breckin Meyer) spend more time on smoke breaks then they do serving coffee.

Fortunately for Rachel, she's very close to landing a new managerial job at an upscale restaurant; unfortunately, her potential employer is planning a site evaluation of the Black Cat Café during this chaotic lunch hour. And if things weren't bad enough with her incompetent staff, the café's dysfunctional clientele is making matters worse. First, there's the crazy woman who makes threats against an incoherent stoner with commitment issues. Next, there's the stoner's ex-girlfriend (a geeky Katherine Heigl) who shows up on a blind date with a womanizing man from hell. Then, there are the two businessmen, one who brings a furry friend with him to lunch and the other with closet behavior. And that's just half of the café!

Initially, I felt like Caffeine would be my cup of joe. The premise surrounding the cook's firing and the big inspection later in the day provides adequate potential for some big laughs as the staff copes with the crises in the kitchen. But Caffeine quickly loses direction with the disjointed restaurant operation and instead shifts its focus to the strange sexual behaviors of the oddballs dining in the café. While it turns out they all have many sexual idiosyncrasies, none of them are the least big interesting, engaging, or humorous. The camera switches between guests so frequently that it never feels like we're part of the any one conversation. Caffeine is all talk and no action.

We never feel the sense of urgency or stress when it comes to the cook's lack of skill or the staff's reluctance to serve the café's patrons. Rachel is clearly no manager: She can't keep her employees in line, nor can she keep the orders moving through the kitchen.Is anyone complaining about the food? What about the terrible service? Clearly better opportunities for laughs existed, maybe even involving a smaller subset of the café's customers.

Caffeine is so bad that even the ridiculous musical number that plays with the closing credits is a dud. Good luck trying to get a fresh cup of coffee with this one.

Don't cry. It's only a movie.

Cast & Crew

Director : John Cosgrove

Producer : John Cosgrove, Jo Levi

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Comments

Caffeine Rating

" Unbearable "

Rating: R, 2006

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