Entertainment Weekly

Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content


The Spitfire Grill

Posted on

The Spitfire Grill

Current Status:
In Season
Wide Release Date:
Ellen Burstyn, Alison Elliott, Marcia Gay Harden
Lee David Zlotoff

We gave it a C+

If you’ve been searching for the sort of movie experience that makes Frank Capra look like a serial killer, this morning-in-America weeper should do the trick. Percy (Alison Elliot), a milky-skinned waif, emerges from a five-year sentence for manslaughter and arrives in the small town of Gilead, Maine, where she goes to work for Hannah (Ellen Burstyn), the ailing proprietor of the Spitfire Grill. The moment you see Ellen Burstyn peering over her granny glasses, rasping out orders in the sort of down-from-the-Mayflower accent generally reserved for local productions of Our Town, you know she’s half an hour away from melting into an old softy. But then, Percy seems to have this effect on everybody. She’s so life-affirming, so good, she’s a regular angel; her story has been engineered to bring a lump to the throat of everyone from Andrea Dworkin to Ralph Reed. Elliot, a gifted actress, has a doleful sensuality that holds The Spitfire Grill together (at least, when it’s not collapsing into absurd episodes about Burstyn’s phantom-of-the-woods visitant), and the notion of raffling off the Spitfire Grill with an essay contest has a musty, Old Hollywood charm. Still, you’d have to be awfully desperate for cheap tears to fall for this piece of sentimental Prozac. C+