This is a classic of mine. It’s called Table for One.
In it, we first meet Sandy as food writer with a column called, you guessed it “Table for One”, for a publication called The City. The City is of course supposed to be Manhattan, but it will look suspiciously like Toronto. So why is she always eating alone, aching for someone to share her ravioli with?
Well, how about the fact that she’s a high heeled, black suit wearing workaholic who orders her Starbucks in a picky, complicated way and isn’t even married!!!
She dilly dallies around town with a local restaurateur played by Kelsey Grammer (think an evil Keith McNally written by someone who has no idea who that is) who has a very open relationship with his “soon to be ex wife” (Rebecca Romijn cameos as the untrustworthy gold digger, thanks to hubby’s recommendation).
“Oh Sandy”, the audience will whimper, “won’t you ever learn??” Of course, no woman in heels that is passionate about her work could ever be happy until some homespun good ole boy teaches her to put on a pair of jeans and abandon all ambitions. Lucky for our missy, that’s just what happens when her editor (we’ll give this role to John C Reilly, who did well with similar material in Never Been Kissed) sends her down to Miami to report on a swanky new restaurant opening.
But wait! On the way down, weather delays her in South Carolina (read “real America”). Seeking refuge from the downpour (first scene of many where her heels become a problem) she wanders into Mama’s House, a diner Cloris Leachman (Betty White – totally booked and too expensive with Bullock on board) runs with a little help from her earnest, social working son, Jerry O’Connell.
The food is like, the best thing she’s ever tasted and she slowly gives up her initial assignment to learn from Mama all about the back to basics of “real” cooking. Lots of references to Mama not being afraid of butter and carbs, plus Leachman has a pet stuffed bear she talks to, pretending it’s her dead husband for inspiration (hey, it’s the best photo I could find of Leachman and I ran with it). More reluctantly, she falls for O’Connell who at first she doesn’t see eye to eye with but a State Fair complete with a pie eating contest and a three legged race that almost results in kissing turns things around.
Of course, it’s not all smooth sailing. Mama’s House is broke, Jerry’s trying to raise money to save the business, and Sandy stupidly opens her big mouth to Kelsey Grammer over the phone about the incredible food she’s discovered. In no time, that smug son of a bitch is down in SC, driving a Bentley and offering to save the day… or is he??
Turns out, he wants to buy Mama out only to make her hard earned diner into a fancy schmancy franchise – the first thing he plans to get rid of: butter and carbs! Jerry is struggling to get the business out of debt, but a saddened Cloris, not wanting her son to have to go through this, signs her name on the dotted line before he gets a chance.
Fortunately an old coot finds a piece of paper that claims the business was not hers to sell! It was her husband’s, technically the stuffed bear now, and O’Connell with the help of Bullock, who’s finally come to her senses and sold her gorgeous West Village apartment with a walk in closet for a life as a diner operator in the South, becomes owner.
Time for one more pie eating contest, and this time it’s going to get hilariously messy!!