Movie Review: Today's Special

When we were remodeling our townhouse, I bought a Samsung Smart TV for the kitchen. The remote had a Netflix button so I linked my Netflix account to it which made My Queue -- now called My List -- just a click away.

I watched a lot of indie films, documentaries, and other obscure offerings   while I lined kitchen shelves, unpacked the kitchen stuff, and arranged everything. Some of what I watched was excellent. I probably wouldn't have viewed it under normal circumstances so I want to pass my recs on to you.

Today's Special

After he gets passed over for promotion, haute cuisine sous chef Samir quits to pursue his dream of cooking in Paris, but an emergency forces him to take over his family's shabby Indian restaurant in Queens.

What It's Really About

A father accepting his son is an adult who just might be more knowledgeable and talented than he ever thought, and a son recognizing his father's accomplishments and realizing that the old man has something to teach him after all. They learn respect for each other that intensifies their love.


Talented Aasif Mandvi wrote the screenplay and stars as Samir, the under-appreciated chef who must learn to trust his instinct, training, and taste buds. Mandvi, born Aasif Hakim Mandviwala, is an Indian-American actor, comedian, writer, and producer. He is a regular correspondent on The Daily Show.

Mandvi's one-man show Sakina's Restaurant was the first play written by a South Asian American to be produced Off Broadway.

Jessica "Jess" Weixler is Carrie, the chef who is attracted to Samir, and not just for his knowledge and skill as a chef. Weixler is an actress, writer, and director.

Dean Winters is Steve, the head chef who denies Samir his promotion. Winters is always good. You probably know him as Detective Brian Cassidy on the long-running Law and Order SVU.

Naseeruddin Shah is Akbar, the wily cab driver with the eclectic resume and a wealth of knowledge about spices. You'll love the scenes where he's teaching Samir to trust his senses.

Harish Patel is Hakim, the patriarch of this family who sees no reason to change the status quo. Patel is known mainly for his stage work, but he's been in several comedy films and on television. If you're a dad, you'll appreciate his performance.

Madhur Jaffrey is Farrida, Hakim's wife and Samir's mother, whose characterization has that universality that all cultures recognize as a mother's love -- as exasperating as it is profound -- and a wife's gentle, but iron will, who directs her husband's path. Jeffrey is amazing and exudes a sense of wisdom and peace in all her roles. I always enjoy her performances.

Final Thoughts

I loved this movie because of its lesson about embracing the best of one's past and discarding old attitudes. The film is amusing with a few laugh-out loud moments, emotional in the relationships that cross all cultures, and witty. There's a great lesson in this story about fathers and sons, change and acceptance, and finding out that accepting your roots can give you wings.

There's a language warning on this film on Netflix for the F-bombs, without which this would be a great family movie. Use your own judgment about letting kids watch. If you don't have Netflix, you can rent or buy Today's Special on Amazon.

Takeaway Truth

Definitely see this. Great underdog story, emotional depth, wit, and relationship lessons not to mention some great performances.

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