The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Review | ‘Sitting in Bars with Cake’ feels half-baked, stale

Photo courtesy of IMDb
Simone Recasner, Charlie Morgan, Yara Shahidi Patton, Odessa A’zion and Maia Mitchell in Prime Video’s fall film, “Sitting in Bars with Cake.” buzz columnist Oishii Basu reviews the Sept. 8 romantic comedy-drama.

*** This review contains spoilers. ***

“Sitting in Bars with Cake,” based upon a cookbook of the same name, is a new rom-com dramedy that hit Amazon Prime on Sept. 8. While it was visually enamoring, its dialogue left something to be desired.

Set in Los Angeles, the film centers on two best friends, Corrine (Odessa A’zion) and Jane (Yara Shahidi) that lean into the unlikely friendship trope. 

Corrine is an irresponsible happy-go-lucky assistant music agent impatiently anticipating a promotion. Jane is an annoyingly timid mail person, who is studying for the LSAT and hiding her passion for baking in her free time. 

In an attempt to break Jane out of her shell, the duo set out for a year-long project. They plan to bring 50 different cakes to 50 different bars in order to meet men in a bluntly named practice called “cakebarring.”

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Alone, these two are sometimes hard to find endearing, but their friendship is where they begin to charm the viewers.

In one of the only decently funny scenes in the film, the duo’s charm shines through. Jane and Corrine are on their twenty third cake, a cherry CBD and THC cake, and they are at a bar, really feeling it. 

After Jane leaves to use the bathroom, a douchey man approaches Corrine. He offers to buy her a drink, still insistent after she says “No, thank you,” a number of times. The douche, disgruntled, calls her a sexist slur. 

Jane overhears and taps him on the shoulder, holding a cake knife in a fist. As he begins to speak, Jane smears cake onto his face and whispers, “That’s enough from you.”

With a runtime of two hours, the pace of the movie is awkward at times. For the first 30 minutes of the film, the audience is still learning about the characters and is left waiting for something. When the conflict — that Corrine has brain cancer — finally presents itself, the drama comes out of left field, but is much more welcome than the half-baked jokes.

In these human moments, we can set aside the duo’s personalities and see their friendship. 

Towards the end of the film, Corrine’s health declines. A’zion plays her well, still making snarky comments in a frail manner. Jane lays beside her while she rests and tells her, “Wherever you are in the universe, I’ll love you.” 

“Sitting in a Bar with Cake” is meant to be a romantic comedy, but the jokes are stale and don’t always land. Both of the main characters’ lines can only evoke a smile at most. 

After finding out about Corrine’s brain cancer, the best friends are lying in bed and Corrine asks Jane, “Hey, if I don’t make it, will you make sure that Lady Gaga starts an orphanage in my name?”

Jane responds, “Like, the House for Little Monsters?” It’s a cute niche joke for Lady Gaga fans, but the punchline was more of a light jab.

Throughout the film, even with some stiff conversation here and there, the body language of A’zion and Shahidi makes their character’s friendship shine. Such times include swinging their held hands together, Corrine grabbing Jane’s face at exciting news and Jane massaging Corrine’s head during painful migraines. 

The performance captures that sometimes giddy, sometimes grave feeling of being with a platonic soulmate.

Visually, the movie offers something special. It’s vibrant — both in color and cake. 

Before gorgeous bird’s eye shots of the cake are shown, we can see the cake introduced on an object in the duo’s location. On their second cake, we focus in on a man carrying a guitar case that reads “Cake #2 Spiced Rum Cake” before entering a pirate-themed bar and seeing a matching cake.

Though “Sitting in Bars with Cake” is visually delicious and includes some sweet performances, its comedic stylings have still left the film a little raw. 


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