Humor and horror come with a delectable six-course meal in the devilishly hilarious The Menu. Starring Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Nicolas Hoult, this masterpiece is the latest in the growing catalog of “Eat The Rich” satires to come to Blu-ray from 20th Century Studios/Disney. Offering an appetizing video transfer and a savory audio mix with a smattering of bonus features to spice up the offering. Hopefully, we’ll get a 4K disc, but until then - Highly Recommended.
Welcome to Hawthorne. At $1250 a head, it is the most exotic and exclusive restaurant on the planet. Headed by celebrity master chef Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes), patrons encounter an array of sensuous delectable delights. Margot Mills (Anya Taylor Joy) and her date Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) along with fellow guests including prominent food critic Lillian (Janet McTeer) and her magazine editor Ted (Paul Adelstein), the rich regulars Richard (Reed Birney) and Anne (Judith Light), the movie star (John Leguizamo) and his assistant Felicity (Aimee Carreo), and three finance tech bros Bryce (Rob Yang), Soren (Arturo Castro), and Dave (Mark St. Cyr) expect to have the best meal of their lives. But tonight’s menu is to be a little different as Chef, his right hand Elsa (Hong Chau), and his team of culinary artisans has a special surprise in store for their guests to be slowly served with each course.
There’s a steadily growing little sub-genre of films called “Eat The Rich” that is proving to be increasingly popular with each entry. It’s not a new thing, Tod Browning’s Freaks more than qualifies as an entry and there’s an 80s movie with the same title. There have been plenty of films about the Have Nots knocking the Haves down a peg or two. But with recent films like The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Glass Onion, and even The Purge films to some degree, the genre is growing in popularity including everything from comedies and dramas to horror films and thrillers. Mark Mylod’s The Menu just happens to be one of the latest entries - and one of the best.
Dark, disturbing, and hilarious the film takes more than a few well-aimed shots at everything from food culture to celebrity to wealth indifference to toxic masculinity. Our audience surrogate for this outing is Anya Taylor-Joy’s Margot. Like everyone at Hawthrone that evening, she’s putting on a front disguising her true self - but her secret separates her from the rest of the guests. As each course is laid out every other guest will have an opportunity to reveal their true self, only truth doesn’t always set you free.
The Menu is one of those movies that just makes you more and more uncomfortable with every moment. You start to squirm early as the tension grips your spine and you wriggle in your seat with every plot revelation. And I loved it! My new favorite film of 2022, I missed the chance to see this properly in theaters so it was a rare treat for my kid to be out of the house for a couple of hours so my wife and I could enjoy a movie together uninterrupted. I loved that this movie has such a pointed perspective but isn’t afraid to turn the mirror back in on itself.
While The Menu is knocking celebrity and excess culture, it’s also brilliantly poking you in the eye. How many of us rage online about random crap we know nothing about like we’re authorities on the subject? A foodie who can’t actually cook, a food critic with a destroyed palate, an actor with a food show that doesn’t respect food, etc. As all of the pointed satire is firmly taking shots at various targets, the film also deftly reminds us that the simplest pleasures are often best. That selling your soul for perfection doesn’t bring happiness. I loved this film and can’t wait to devour it all over again… hopefully with something more appetizing than popcorn. Maybe a damn good cheeseburger.
For another take on the film, here’s Bryan Kluger’s The Menu Theatrical Review
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
The Menu offers up a single-course Blu-ray release from 20th Century Studios/Disney. Pressed on a BD-50 disc, the disc is housed in a standard case with digital copy slip. My review copy didn’t include a slipcover. The disc loads to an animated main menu with standard navigation options.
I really hope Disney opens up Minnie Mouse’s purse strings a little for the 20th Century Studios titles soon because The Menu (among many recent and catalog titles) demands a 4K release. Now as a 1080p 2.35:1 SDR presentation, this is an excellent, often beautiful, near flawless presentation. But if the tech specs on IMDB are accurate, with a finished 4K Digital Intermediate, it could look even better. But, beggars can’t be choosers, and compared to the HBOMax streaming transfer, I’ll take this disc with every meal. From frame one the details are scrumptious. Shot like the most beautiful food show you’ve ever seen, it takes the time to appreciate the smallest intricate details of each dish, as well as each character. Facial features, costumes, and the unique set design work are all beautifully exploited for this disc. Colors are excellent with heavenly primary saturation for healthy skin tones but also a full appreciation for the multitude of colors featured with every meal. Black levels are spot on with excellent shadows for a lovely sense of depth and dimension to every scene.
In another case where we might not quite be experiencing “the best” this film has to offer, it was apparently finished with Dolby Atmos audio (again if IMDB specs are correct) and yet we’re given a DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track. It’s very good don’t get me wrong, but again I wonder if we’re not due for better. As an awards contender, my figure is 20th/Dis is sitting on a better offering for some post-awards marketing. That said, as this stands it’s an excellent track. Surrounds are active and engaging in subtle but enjoyable ways. Early when the guests are boarding the boat to go to the restaurant, a voice over the loud speaker moves around the channels, and likewise whenever Chef claps his hands to announce the next course, the echo effect is impressive. Throughout, little murmuring voices or the sounds of the cooks or the clinks of glasses and cutlery keep the channels fully engaged. Dialog is clean and clear without issue and the soundscape is complete with an effective Colin Stetson score.
The Menu is served with a rather skimpy portion of bonus features. The A Look Inside The Menu three-part making-of is pretty good, it offers some interesting morsels but nothing extensive. Likewise, the deleted scenes are interesting but they were wise cuts as they actually might give away too much character material rather than save them for a more impactful reveal later.
The Menu is a cinematic feast. Darkly hilarious and incredibly tense, it’s an engrossing watch from beginning to end with an incredible ensemble cast. As intense and uncomfortable as it can get, it’s also richly funny performing a delectable multi-genre masterclass in satire. Now on Blu-ray, The Menu looks and sounds amazing with an excellent video transfer and a fully engaging DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio mix. However, an item like The Menu calls out for a full 4K presentation and I dearly hope it gets one. But if this 1080p release is all we’re served then it's well worth devouring. Highly Recommended.