Friday, April 8, 2022

The Automat Movie Review

Audrey Hepburn at the Automat, 1951 (Photo: Lawrence Fried)

Nickels and Windows

Rotten Tomatoes Plot: Before fast food we had something better. Our grandparents told us stories of gathering around communal tables, sharing their lives, their struggles, and their dreams with strangers at The Automat. In the long awaited Horn & Hardart documentary, relive the phenomena of America's original and most beloved restaurant chain. The one-hundred-year Automat saga serves up never before-seen archival footage and photographs and a cast including celebrity customers, company executives, historians, and members of the Horn & Hardart families. Directed by Lisa Hurwitz.

Featuring: Mel Brooks, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elliott Gould, Colin Powell, Carl Reiner and Howard Schultz.

What's Good: Fancy a look back at a culinary New York/Philly landmark with "panache?" Then look no further than Hurwitz's charming The Automat. It's lovingly referred to as, "a tourist destination on par with the Statue of Liberty," but don't let the lofty praise fool you: Folks loved Automats. Sit back and relax, as Mel Brooks & company share earnest memories of "slot machine lunches" and the like. It's gloriously short (less than 80 minutes!) and guaranteed to get you thinking about your favorite eatery from the past (Hot Shoppes anyone?)

What's Not: If you're not the nostalgic type (or of a certain age) you may not understand what all the fuss is about.

Budget: N/A

Runtime: 79 minutes (Why can't all movies be this short?)

Target Audience: Foodies, people old enough to remember (or at least appreciate.)

Bottom Line: I'm the type of a guy who jumps for joy anytime I see a vending machine in the background of a movie or TV show. So imagine my euphoria over a super-sized restaurant chock-full of 'em (in solid brass & nickel, no less?) I realize I'm in the minority, but you can bet your bottom dollar nickel I'll be chowing down at Silver Diner or Steak N Egg this weekend.

Grade: B