I understand we’re in the heart of awards season, but I am endlessly compelled by the Lifetime TV short/KFC commercial-hybrid A Recipe for Seduction. Featuring the talents of Mario Lopez as the famed Colonel Harlan Sanders, this 15-minute mini-movie gained waves of attention when it was announced early last week. I was amped to experience an unabashedly goofy TV experience that would generate waves of conversation.
To my surprise, it’s Sunday mid-day release was met with muted apathy. I found a mere few reactions to the special’s existence last night, leaving me searching for hours (okay, more like a few minutes) for where I could watch a re-run. Once I finally engulfed the short-lived special, I was utterly baffled and amused by what’s on display.
A Recipe for Seduction Jessica (Justene Alpert), a precocious heiress stuck in a loveless relationship with the brash Billy (Chad Doreck). After declining his proposal, Jessica begins to have an affair with the affable chef Colonel Sanders (Mario Lopez). Their relationship draws ire from Jessica’s mom Bunny (Tessa Munro), who works with Billy to break up the pair at any cost.
That’s the gist of what this 15-minute experience has to offer. While it was impossible to outstretch audience’s grand preconceived notions, the short deliveries the kind of guilty-pleasure comfort food that’s synonymous with its brand.
The secret ingredient behind A Recipe for Seduction’s success lies in its straight-faced self-awareness. This mini-movie packs the gamut of a Lifetime movie conflicts into its truncated package, stuffing every frame with outlandish twists and turns. The trio of directors (Armand Prisco, Natalie Prisco, and Eric Ecklerman, who work under the pseudonym of Jean) operate with a bright adoration for soap opera melodrama, mining several humorous bits out of the genre’s over-the-top nature (characters are often lightly hit but fall over as they had just been shot).
Perhaps the short’s biggest allure lies in Mario Lopez’s casting as Colonel Sanders. Lopez may be more synonymous with his recent hosting duties, but the Saved by the Bell star delivers a strong performance as the restaurant’s iconic mascot. Instead of playing the role with a campy cheekiness, the actor’s deadpan sincerity sells the Colonel’s equally distinguished and mysterious image. He commands the screen throughout the special, often leaving audience’s hungry for more of his steely-eyed delivery.
A Recipe for Seduction is a uniquely enjoyable oddity, though its appeals are relatively limited. I don’t mind the reduced screentime, as the KFC-based gag could get tiresome if stretched out to a feature-length film. That being said, I wish the short had a little more meat on the bone. A lot of the wild twists are made without proper development, with scenes often feeling disconnected as the narrative propels forward at a scatter-shot pace. I wish the material had more time to marinate, as the final result can sometimes feel like a half-baked gimmick.
Some will write off the short for its evident corporate motivations (at the end of the day, it’s basically a well-produced KFC skit), but I had a blast with A Recipe for Seduction. In a year chock-full of bad news, it’s a pleasure to delve into something that’s so openly farcical (and yes, I had to include as many food puns as possible).
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