August 3, 2006 2:03 AM | By Adam Roberts | 10 Comments

Foodie Movie Review: "I Like Killing Flies"


The new Shopsin's movie is everything I wanted it to be, even though it's not necessarily a great movie. Kenny Shopsin is a fascinating person, to say the least. He and his family represent genuine New York character--real quirkiness that isn't manufactured by studios who paint kitschy sets and want you to believe in the magic fairyland of New York City. There isn't the tiniest droplet of sentimentality in this movie and thank God for that. Instead, you get a behind-the-scenes look at a man who may be a genius, the family he created and the restaurant where they all thrive. Watching Kenny in his kitchen is like watching Picasso in his studio: he wields his pans and his tongs like a true master, and you will delight in the many strange contraptions and techniques he concocts to prepare his food. (My favorite was the way he glazed the glazed pancakes: he set a metal spatula directly over a flame, sprinkled sugar on top of a pancake and then seared the sugar with the hot spatula. The sound it makes will make you smile.)

The movie itself is jagged. While there's a story being told--the movie takes place when Shopsin's relocates from Bedford to Carmine (and, by the way, I had no idea that the old Shopsin's location is where Snack Taverna stands today---Snack Taverna's one of my favorite Village restaurants)--the storytelling isn't particularly arresting. You have the old Shopsin's, you have the landlord raise the rent, you have the scouting out of a new restaurant (which does, indeed, make for a few wonderfully dramatic scenes) and then you have the move. Not a ton of conflict or rising action, but certainly lots of opportunity to see Kenny being Kenny. And what a joy he is to watch, to listen to, to get grossed out by (he compares separating eggs with his hands to the pleasures of "feeling pussy.") The Shopsins legacy is a proud one and much of that pride rests on the shoulders of this man whose vision is clear, whose passion is sincere, and whose way of running a restaurant is so idiosyncratic that one might frame an entire philosophy or system of government on its credos.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure if this movie is playing anywhere other than New York City. It's a shame because the world this movie lets you into is a world of real New York charm, eloquence, humor, love and invention. Spending 80 minutes with the man who combined pancakes and macaroni and cheese to make macaroni and cheese pancakes is a real treat. Let's hope it goes to DVD or gets picked up by HBO in the near future.


ah, shopsins. i've never been but i've read about it in a calvin trillin book (i think?). i hope this film comes to LA.

Does anyone know if there is a trailer for this flick online? I've searched around a bit but cannot find one... Cheers.

I found some clips of the movie at:

After watching the clips, I hope it comes out on DVD. It looks interesting.

Sorry about that, for some reason the link isn't it is so you can copy and paste it:

There was a better, shorter review 2 weeks ago on Looks like everyone likes the movie tho.

Thanks for the heads up-I ran out & saw the movie and it was excellent!

I saw this movie in April at the Wisconsin Film Festival, and absolutely loved it! The story and characters really stay with you, too.

Also, though they do a brief run-though of the massive menu, some of which may make you salivate, there are just enough shots of the activities that brought about the film's title to NOT make you scarf down more than your fair share of popcorn. Germaphobes, beware.

Thanks Amy!

That makes sense, mirthmobile, because Calvin Trillin (one of my personal deities) was in the movie. Another good foodie movie is Ang Lee's "Eat Drink Man Woman." The opening credits alone are worth the price of admission.

Independent films like I Like Killing Flies don't play widely because people don't demand them. They'd rather see remakes of Superman. So it's great that grassroots media like your blog talk about little films like Killing Flies.
It opens in San Fran at the Roxie 8/18.
If you missed it here in NYC at Cinema Village, it moves over to Jacob Burns in Westchester. Because folks like Amy loved it in Wisconsin, there will be a run in Madison at the Orpheum beginning
8/25. I used to work at THINKFilm, the company that distributes Killing Flies and I love the movie, so please check for more dates in your town.
Thanks for the forum!

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