The Moya View

Sitting in Bars With Cake: A Semi-Weepy that Leaves a Good Taste in the Mouth

Amazon Studios

Movie info via Rotten Tomatoes:

Based on the cookbook Sitting in Bars with Cake by Audrey Shulman. Corinne convinces her baker best friend, Jane, to commit to a year of baking cakes and bringing them to bars with the goal of meeting people and developing confidence.


Review:

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Sitting in Bars With Cake is based on a cookbook by the amateur chef turned writer Audrey Shulman. The books full title is Sitting in Bars With Cake: Lessons and Recipes From One Year of Trying to Bake My Way to a Boyfriend, which is a sexy, scrumptious mouthful of a title. Shulman’s format is a two paragraph girl meets boy in bar encounter followed by two pages of the actual enticing cake creation she tried to siren feed him. If she had stuck to that format when she was writing the screenplay, Cake might have been a delightful little sex romp turned romantic comedy.

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Unfortunately, the cake creations are the only part that made it to the screen successfully. The bar part is semi cringey and mostly floats wisps of potential romantic partners to be or not to be. It’s all about the girls really. The boys never really make it past the desert as entrée. And if you get the Hamlet quote, then you have a pretty good idea what will happen in Cake’s second half.

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Shulman, a nice introverted Jewish girl, changes herself into a nice black introverted semi-virgin named Jane (Yara Shahidi, ABC’s “Grown-ish”) who thinks she is plain but decidedly is not. She even has an extroverted dorky vivacious roommate, Corinne, (Odessa A’zion), whose incurable disease and character will take over the latter part of Cake.

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Cake is a tragic lesbian love story too afraid to come out of the closet. It tries to have its cake and eat it too by pretending to be half romantic comedy and half tribute to enduring, unshakeable friendship. Cake wants to be a Beaches for the millennials. The romantic comedy veneer is just a setup, some character development, to pull off the highly effective weepy ending.

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Even Bette Midler shows up in a low key role to confirm the Beaches connection. It’s a bit on the nose, but it works, even the dueling comic-tragic tone. Midler is the transition character that blends the two tones into a somewhat successful whole.

Amazon Studios

Still, it is the chemistry between Shadidi and A’zion that makes Cake an effective watch. The two have an entirely authentic friendship and latent love. They just don’t just finish each other’s sentences, they quip on them. This is a friendship that goes way way back enough to have its set in routines and conflict resolution modes. The two complement and complete each other, providing security and order. The film maintains this and their irreverent spirit to the bitter end. Cake manages to stay on the heartfelt side of maudlin. I can eat that kind of cake anytime.

Amazon Studios

Sitting in Bars With Cake gets a 3.5 out of 5 or a B+. It’s streaming on Amazon Prime.

Amazon Studios

Credits:

  • Rating: PG-13
  • Genre: Romance, Comedy
  • Original Language: English
  • Director: Trish Sie
  • Producer: Susan CartsonisSuzanne FarwellNick MoceriBrent Emery
  • Writer: Audrey Shulman
  • Release Date (Theaters): Sep 8, 2023  Original
  • Release Date (Streaming): Sep 8, 2023
  • Runtime: 2h 0m
  • Distributor: Amazon Studios
  • Production Co: Amazon Studios, All Night Diner, Resonate Entertainment

Amazon Studios


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