Comfort Food

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Comedy/Drama/Mystery/Romance/, USA, 2008

Synopsis Young Ned (Field Cate) is nine years, nine months and blah blah blah years old and an insomniac who turned to baking as sheep counting. Social outcast Eugene (Nicholas Khayyat) catches him eating pie late at night and joins him. Then the rest of the boys wake up and come for home-cooked comfort pie. A pie party breaks out, cantina-scene-in-Star Wars style. Then the head master busts them and young Ned learns a moment of gratification can lead to a world of consequences.......a lesson he's about to re-learn as he and Chuck (Anna Friel) open her dead dad's grave. (Because, seems like a recipe for success.)They open, and Chuck is ready. They both get half a minute, so Ned (Lee Pace) can ask about Dwight (Stephen Root). Ned pokes and begins. Dead Dad (Josh Randall) says Dwight is dangerous, but if he's got the watch already they should just go along with whatever he wants. Chuck gets the second 30 and Ned climbs out of the grave to give her and passed papa a moment.Back in the apartment, they spoon, with a protective layer of plastic between them. Chuck gets up with an errand to run.Vivian (Ellen Greene) waits for Dwight Dixon, gentleman caller, not knowing Lily (Swoosie Kurtz) has run him off. At his hotel, Lily greets Dwight with a shotgun and a threat. She's got his watch and wants his story. He starts at the very beginning and reaches for his gun. Lily blasts him. And then snaps out of her reverie, tired of waiting. She leaves him a note telling him she's got the watch and to meet her at the cemetery.Ned tries to emotionally coddle Chuck, but she says she's OK. She's choosing to think of it as 30 more seconds than she would have gotten. He was going to go to a cook-off but is now thinking of staying with Chuck. She tells him to go anyway. She has things to tell him about how she's feeling, but they can wait.At the cook-off he and Olive (Kristin Chenoweth) wear soda jerk outfits and pie hats. Olive thinks they should have won in the past. She eyes up the competition: Colonel Likkin' (Tim Bagley) and Buffalo Muffin. They meet the coordinator, Leo Burns (Eric Stonestreet), who's a "very, very big fan", also morbidly obese and riding around in a scooter. The Buffalo Muffin woman comes over to talk food smack but Ned is distracted, wondering what Chuck might have to tell him.Cut to Chuck and her secret: She says hello to her not-in-his-grave father.Flashback to the origin of her secret: She kneels over him in his grave, saying she misses him and loves him. She gives him the present she was going to give him before he died. Then, having a change of heart, she puts her glove on his hand and tells him when Ned touches him to play dead. She'll be back to dig him up in an hour. Ned comes over, touches the glove and next we see Chuck wrapping her dad's head, mummy-style in her apartment. She explains how Ned's touching works. He checks to make sure he's not going start craving human flesh. Fair question. He asks what the catch is, but she says she'll tell him later that night.Emerson (Chi McBride) brews the perfect cup of coffee and is enjoying it when Chuck barges in, asking for his help. She tells him about the whole "my dad's not dead again" thing. Emerson is steamed, mad, red hot, but plans to yell at her later.At the bake-off, Olive cooks with rich, buttery carbohydrate hate, wanting to beat Muffin lady (Beth Grant). There's a scream as a woman comes out saying her husband, the colonel, is dead. Ned finds him head first in deep fry. He's not just dead, he's extra crispy.It looks like he collapsed and fell into the oil. She always knew one of his many massive heart attacks would kill him. He was a fat frying savant who kept his recipe in his head. If only she could have a minute with him... Ned tells Olive to create a distraction. He pokes extra crispy, who says there are 500 herbs and spices in the recipe, and he didn't collapse. He was pushed. He has one hand-written copy in his breast pocket. But it's not there. Time's up. He hates to go, but at least he's "going delicious," he says as he takes a chomp of his own hand and KFC shares plummet.Chuck laments having been dishonest with Ned and with making someone else "less alive." They have to find who died, and right after she has to tell Ned about her resurrected relative.The colonel's widow announces the cook-off will continue. Olive refuses to get soft and compassionate when they have a chance to win. Ned tells her about his "theory" that the colonel was killed. Olive is skeptical of how he found that out. Olive points out he's never solved a murder mystery alone before. He says he's not alone and Olive gets all tingly, "and not just in the nether regions." They see their oven smoking. Someone has sabotaged their pie.At the cemetery, Emerson and Chuck look for her victim. Emerson finds him: Dwight Dixon. Emerson finds what he was doing there: Dwight had a rifle already lined up. Chuck looks through the sight and sees it was aimed at Chuck's father's grave.Flashback to Dwight taking his rifle to the cemetery after finding Lily's note. He sees Ned and Chuck in her dad's grave, assuming they're putting back the pocket watch. But they take too long and he thinks they're desecrating the grave. So, "as is traditional, he decided to put an end to the thing he did not understand."Chuck realizes if she hadn't kept her dad alive, she'd have been murdered again and Ned, too. They plan to bury him in Chuck's dad's grave and it'll be like none of this ever happened. Suddenly, she imagines Dwight talking to her.At the bake-off, Ned and Olive need to re-bake to maintain their cover to stay in the competition to solve the colonel's murder. Vivian shows up. She's been crying. Olive can tell it was man troubles. Vivian feels bad for taking Olive away from Ned, telling her lying to yourself about love never works.Ned finds something in the sabotaged oven: carmelized sugar. Maple syrup. Only one chef there uses it: the Waffle Nazi (Patrick Fischler).Chuck waits for Emerson and the shovels while Dwight continues the guilt trip, saying she should have told Ned by now. Emerson returns and they dig.Ned and Olive sneak. Olive is upset the saboteur broke the cooking rules by entering another chef's kitchen, but Ned wants to stay focused on solving the murder. And so, they illegally enter the Waffle Nazi's cooking area, looking for clues. While they do, Olive tells Ned what Vivian said about them as a couple, suggesting it was silly. Ned gets her hopes up by saying it's not all that crazy to think they're together. They're distracted until Ned finds a delicious batter that must have 500 herbs and spices in it. But then, they're busted by the Waffle Nazi, who accuses them of sabotage with the smug Muffin lady as a witness. They protest that they were sabotaged, too. When they accuse the Waffle Nazi of stealing the chicken recipe he says he and colonel were about to go into business together. The bake-off coordinator Leo Burns scoots in the oven tent catches them all mid-rules violation. The Pie Hole is out.Over her dad's (now Dwight's) grave, Chuck thinks they should say a few words. Emerson obliges: "Here lies Dwight, here lies his gun, he was a bad man, now he's done."Just in time, Chuck sees Lily approaching and she dives behind a grave to hide. Lily tells Emerson she's waiting for Dwight.At the bake-off, the Pie Holers pack up but decide on one last bit of recon. They find sprinkles on the ground in the colonel's baking tent. Olive loves sprinkles. She pops some in her mouth and spits them out: they're plastic jewelry. Someone holding a large ladle creeps up behind them. A couple of loud whacks emanate from the Colonel's tent and the Muffin lady walks out, trying to avoid discovery.Olive and Ned reassure each other to stay calm. The camera turns and we see Ned is trying to avoid laying directly on top of Olive. They're trapped in a trunk. Ned does a few hearty push-ups and manages to pop the Muffin lady off the top of the trunk. She isn't the killer. She is, however, the saboteur. Olive wants to get her disqualified, but Muffin lady pleads her case. Just then, Leo Burns scoots in. Seeing Muffin lady, he disqualifies her and, seeing the Pie Holers again, he bans them for life. Ned looks down and realizes the tracks in the batter aren't gurney tracks, scooter tracks. Leo's the killer. He tries to scoot away but Ned reaches down and takes his scooter key. Ned accuses him, but Burns says that'll never hold up in court. Then Ned sees Burns has the recipe. He's fried.The facts were these: one day Leo Burns was a slender and happy man, until he discovered Colonel Likkin' Southern Fried Chicken and it became all he could eat. Having lost his life to the Colonel's chicken he vowed to make him pay.An announcement goes out. There are 30 seconds left to get the entries on the judges' table. And Leo never told anyone they were disqualified. Luckily, Olive happened to bring an ice box lemon pie as Plan B. She and Muffin lady race off, 20 seconds to go. In slow-mo, they race for their food and then for the table. Muffin pushes Olive out of the way but she comes roaring back on Leo's scooter and, at the last possible second, body blocks Muffin from getting her food down right as Olive's pie hits the table in time.The colonel's widow says he'd be so proud. And now she's going to go into business with a nice donut man. "Finger licking' donut holes," she says. "Sounds delicious...and filthy," replies Ned. America's favorite, Olive says, they'll make millions.The winner is announced: the Pie Hole. Olive basks in the moment, taking Ned's hand. The lights dim and (yea!!) she bursts into the Bangles "Eternal Flame."She's interrupted by Ned, worried about Chuck and racing off to find her, leaving Olive with the mess. She's used to the mess. Back to "Eternal Flame." (Seriously, Kristen Chenoweth puts Susanna Hoffs to shame.)Ned visits Lily and Vivian, looking for Dwight. They don't know where he is. But Lily sees someone open the curtains in Ned's old house across the street. He runs to investigate, expecting Dwight possibly holding Chuck hostage. Instead, he finds Chuck and then a man calling for her. She says "it's OK, Dad" and Ned turns to see mummy dad. She was going to tell him.And...fadeout.

Directed by Peter Lauer  

Starring Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Chi McBride, Jim Dale, Field Cate, more...

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