Written & directed by Lee David Zlotoff

Starring Alison Elliot, Ellen Burnstyn, Will Patton.

"The Spitfire Grill"

Opened: Aug. 23, 1996 | Rated: PG-13

"The Spitfire Grill" gets and A for effort. It tries hard to be meaningful and poignant as it angles to drive home it's positive message. But until literally the last moments of the film, it's a clumsy collage of characters all stumbling upon the universal truth of The Golden Rule. You remember: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

This methodical approach lends itself to inconsistent characters who are completely closed off and introverted one moment and outgoing and chipper the next.

This is especially true of a recently released felon turning her life around (Alison Elliot), on whom the story focuses. She comes to a small town in Maine to start over as a waitress in a greasy spoon, only to find some folks aren't too accepting of her past.

Ellen Burnstyn, who plays the stingy, old fogey owner of the Spitfire Grill, is the best part of the movie. But as with all the other characters, she doesn't do much but gnash out her visceral issues in public.

Writer/director Lee David Zlotoff's script is many hollow stabs at heartfelt reflection.

But, and this is a big but, "The Spitfire Grill" packs one hell of an emotional whammy as it draws to a close. I have to admit I cried a little, and while I'm an easy sniffle, actually getting my cheeks wet takes something that strikes a deep and personal chord.

©1996 All Rights Reserved.

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