It's been far too long since the Defamer Special Movie Premiere Food Critic dusted off his tastebuds and filed a report on the latest breakthroughs in Hollywood's appetizer and buffet technologies, but we dragged our gastronomic arbiter of debut galas away from the Blue Plate Special of semi-retirement for another review. Enjoy his assessment of the offerings at Monday night's Monster House premiere, where Sony pandered to the culinary tastes of the same children they were courting with their cinematic product:
It's been a long absence since your movie premiere restaurant critic had a chance to spread his wings. I've spent the last 11 months touring the world on a Ford Foundation studying the great event foods of the world. But after all my travels, I can soundly state that no one does event food like a Hollywood premiere. And so it was with a song in my heart that I came home to Westwood, easing back onto my beat with a dinner at Monster House.
The screening was held at the classic Mann Village Theater with the party down the block. After being awestruck by the wonder of seeing 3-D animation in 3-D, the question hung in the air - after shelling out all that dough for the fancy cartoon effects, would there be anything left to spend on the buffet?
The answer, fortunately, was a qualified yes. As we entered the lot where the event was held, decorated in a sort of Halloween carnival theme, the signs of Wolfgang Puck's handiwork were immediately evident—which at an event can mean a taste of Spago or one of Puck Express. On this night, the food was tailored to a kid's junk food theme - along with his signature chicken salad and beef in a corn-relishy sauce, there were chicken tenders, fish and chips, macaroni and cheese and hamburgers.
Hollywood wise man Rob Long, in an exclusive interview with this critic, noted the great cycle Hollywood cuisine, reflecting the cycle of Hollywood entertainment where we now "hire Wolfgang Puck to serve us In N Out burgers." That said, the chicken tenders, served with a very sweet barbeque sauce, were pretty good. The macaroni and cheese was a bit bland and the hamburgers looked too thin and dry to try. But the beef was very tender and quite edible.
The kids theme was taken a bit too far, I thought, by the trays of Mountain Dew circulating, a soda which makes a funny punchline but few want to take it so far as to drink with their dinner. There were also, thoughtfully, some shooting gallery games set up for the children so that they would be kept out of the way of the adults doing the serious work at the buffet tables. Jason Schwartzman and his bowlcut perched by one for much of the night. Jason Lee held court at a table in a distant corner. I noticed Larry King hobbling by using his six year old son as a crutch.
Given the kids theme, dessert, as expected, was where the real action was. Mini-cones of vanilla cheesecake and blueberry cheesecake ice cream. Halloween-monster-shaped cookies and little spiders made of chocolate mousse. All were very fine, the ice cream quite refreshing on the warm Westwood night and most people seemed to have the sense to leave room for at least two cones.
All in all, a decent return to my old haunts, an ease back into the best of entertainment. Based on the food, I predict modest but acceptable grosses for Monster House at the box office. It tasted like a 18 mil opening weekend to me.