Simply Irresistible
directed by Mark Tarlov
(20th Century Fox, 1999)

I love a good love story as much as the next guy -- probably more than the next guy, actually -- and Simply Irresistible is a thoroughly charming little romantic comedy that depicts a love that is thoroughly magical and pure. Many a good romantic film is ruined for me by the onrush of a carnal, physical relationship that occurs far too soon and removes the glitter surrounding something beautiful. This movie does not do that, thereby managing to convey, at least to me, the very essence of true love. Giving a brand new twist to the old saying that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, Simply Irresistible is not a conventional love story by any means, yet the rather unexplainable and unaccountable things that take place only add to the true magic of events.

You must first suspend your disbelief of Sarah Michelle Gellar having any trouble whatsoever winning a man's heart. Her character, Amanda Shelton, is utterly precious and adorable, exuding an aura of innocence that is far removed from the equally powerful yet quite different presence Gellar displays in her more familiar role as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Amanda is the cook in her late mother's restaurant, struggling to keep the business up and running. Her customers love her and the atmosphere of the place, but when it comes right down to it, Amanda is not a very good cook.

One strange morning, a strange man at the market sells her a case of crabs, one of which scurries off, thereby causing her to bump into Tom Bartlett (Sean Patrick Flanery). A short time later, Amanda's fairy godfatherly helper leads Bartlett and his current girlfriend to Amanda's restaurant. Struggling to prepare the Crab Napoleon she had mentioned to Bartlett at the time of their first meeting -- a dish she has no idea how to make -- she is amazed to find the dish prepared without any conscious effort on her part.

Suddenly, Amanda is a terrific cook; not only does her food taste scrumptious, it has strange effects on the people who partake of it (easily breaking the bond between Tom's current girlfriend and himself). This element of weirdness proves to be a problem of sorts for her seemingly predestined romance with Bartlett, as he comes to think of her as some sort of witch. Were I to levitate each time Sarah Michelle Gellar kissed me, that would not be a problem for yours truly, yet Tom somehow disapproves of love-inspired levitation with Amanda. Certainly, this most unusual young lady has bewitched him, but the secret behind Amanda's newfound culinary skills and magical effect on Tom and everyone else who eats her cooking is in fact a crab. Undeniably, the whole crab business is pretty weird, but the romance that blooms slowly and not without a struggle between Amanda and Tom is a classic one sure to warm the hearts of those who are not complete cynics when it comes to love.

- Rambles
written by Daniel Jolley
published 23 August 2003

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