Broad comedy and goopy melodrama are combined to digestible but hardly delectable effect in “Joyful Reunion.” Though billed as a sequel to “Eat Drink Man Woman,” replete with intergenerational conflict, romantic uncertainty and elegantly prepared cuisine, this Taiwan-China co-production has no characters in common with Ang Lee’s 1994 foodie favorite and is working with story ingredients of a markedly lower quality. Bland, Lazy Susan-style crowdpleaser could stir up respectable local numbers but won’t sell like hotcakes overseas.
Tsao Jui-yuan’s largely Hangzhou-set dramedy faintly echoes “Eat Drink” by focusing on a legendary chef (Kenneth Tsang) and his loving but not-uncomplicated relationship with his overachieving daughter, Wa’er (Huo Siyan), but the six-scribe screenplay complicates the stew by introducing Wa’er’s nerdy, neglectful b.f. (Blue Lan) and his blowsy, ill-mannered Taiwanese aunt (Rose Kuei). How these relationships play out is neither engaging nor persuasive, though there are eye-candy compensations in the sumptuous production design, from the gleaming waterfront health spa where Waer works, to her father’s exquisite restaurant, though the all-vegetarian menu won’t satiate all food-porn appetites. Bluntly speaking her mind one minute, showing off her dancing abilities the next, Kuei steals the show.