Comics To Screen: The Kitchen
As you know by now (if don't know, now you know), The Kitchen opens in theaters today, August 9th. Besides the fact that it is starring Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish and Elizabeth Moss; it is based on a 8 part comics series from DC Vertigo (which will no longer exist starting 2020) from 2015.
WARNING: Please be aware, if you have not seen the movie nor have read the comic, there are some spoilers ahead.
This story takes place in the 1970s in Hell's Kitchen, New York; the Irish mob has taken the neighborhood, taking collections from businesses for their protection. The husbands of Kath, Ruby and Claire are in charge and in the middle of a stick up they are arrested. The women are left fending for themselves. Kath, Ruby and Claire know how their husbands worked and decide to take over the collections. After awhile, the women have the run of the neighborhood. With this much power, nothing can go wrong. When their husbands get out, will they be willing to relinquish their power?
This is an old fashion mob movie to the core. You have the story of the Irish mob in the 1970s Hell's Kitchen, which at time was primarily Irish. Melissa McCarthy is in the role of Kath, you can tell she is the reliable one of the wives of the Irish mobsters. She has two children with her husband , Jimmy, who is one of the men arrested by the FBI. Ruby is married to the leader of the mob, Kevin O'Carroll. The hate she is given by her mother in law, Helen, seethes through the screen, even before words are spoken to each other, you can see the hate between Helen, Kevin and Ruby. Claire is married to the third guy arrested, Rob Walsh. She doesn't mind much that he is going to prison, Rob has been beating her since before they were married.
The story starts taking turns when the women take matters into their own hands. They get the money and the neighborhoods respect of the shop owners that they are women of their word. The more money they make the more attention they get from the new mob boss Jackie, which puts their lives in danger. For extra muscle, Ruby contacts Gabriel, who has a connection with a past mob job and with Claire. This is where the story takes a dangerous turn, bodies start dropping left and right within the Irish mob and at a certain point, the women get the backing from the Brooklyn Italian mob. Money and egos get on the way and like any mob movie, it does not end well. I really enjoyed this movie, the actors (great cast,) the costuming (very 1970s,) and the accents (makes me homesick.)
But that was the movie, let me tell you about the comic. First, the movie stays pretty true to the comic story, want to know why? The original writer and illustrator were involved with the production (writer Ollie Masters, artist Ming Doyle) and the director was female (Andrea Berloff.) Berloff definitely created a feminist movie and let McCarthy and Haddish spread their dramatic wings, letting the audience see them outside their comedic roles. The brutality, the feeling of hopelessness, the lengths that these women go to just to survive it is all there from the comic. Here are the differences:
THE MAIN CHARACTERS
Kathy, Raven and Angie are the protagonists in the comic. Kathy and Raven are sisters who grew up within the Irish mob. their father was a boss and treated them and their mother horribly, he had no need for women. They married into the mob with their eyes wide open. Angie is the weakest of the trio, but close to Kathy and Raven. Same beginning as the movie, but the catalyst to getting more money the shop owners did not start with a deal, it started with a severe beating and a bullet for a made man of the Italian mob.
In the comic, cops were only involved in the beginning when the husbands are arrested, tried and convicted. The mother in law, Helen, does not exist in the comic, which is fine with me she wasn't needed. Tommy is the psychopath that the women hire to be their enforcer and he is a lot more brutal in the comics. I felt the movie could have used more of the comics, there were certain scenarios that were completely glossed over or not even used. I know, for the sake of keeping the movie within a certain time frame, they had to cut out a lot and change. Kathy/Kath and Raven/Ruby for instance. They are sisters, but I didn't mind the change in the movie, it worked for their motives on why being in the business is important to them.
There is a part in the movie that involves the Hasidic Jewish jewelers was in the comic, but the younger men in the group dealt the brutality to keep the peace. There were some important characters from the comic that pieced the story together in the comic that was completely missing from the movie. Their motives become clearer as the story goes along; Kathy really just wants to help people in the neighborhood, Ruby has selfish motives and Angie wants to be the enforcer. The ending in the comic is traumatic, not to say the movie's ending wasn't, but in the comic, the body count was much higher.
The movie was well done and would definitely recommend it. I HIGHLY recommend you read the comic series and it is worth the read and will give you a deeper look into why this mob movie was a good story.