A magical crab works wonders for a terrible chef's culinary skills, leading her towards the man of her dreams.


Mark Tarlov


Judith Roberts





Cast overview, first billed only:
Sarah Michelle Gellar ... Amanda Shelton
Sean Patrick Flanery ... Tom Bartlett
Patricia Clarkson ... Lois McNally
Dylan Baker ... Jonathan Bendel
Lawrence Gilliard Jr. ... Nolan Traynor (as Larry Gilliard Jr.)
Christopher Durang Christopher Durang ... Gene O'Reilly
Betty Buckley ... Aunt Stella
Olek Krupa ... Valderon
Amanda Peet ... Chris
Alex Draper ... Francois
Drew Nieporent ... Gil Shapiro
Anthony Ruivivar ... Ramos
Andrew McFarlane ... The Poet
Steven Skybell ... Mr. Mueller
Phyllis Somerville ... Ruth


A department store executive (Flanery) tries to resist falling in love with a young woman (Gellar), who he believes has possessed magical powers after inheriting a restaurant. Written by Lawless <lawless@smgfan.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A bewitching romance. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for brief sexual references | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Screenwriter Judith Roberts is the wife of director Mark Tarlov. See more »


Throughout most of the dish-throwing scene, a crewmember's legs are visible in one of the mirrors in the background. See more »


Tom Bartlett: How do you know so much about paper airplanes?
Amanda Shelton: I hated algebra.
See more »

Crazy Credits

For Judy See more »


References Cinderella (1950) See more »


Every Little Thing (He) Does Is Magic
Performed by Shawn Colvin
Written by Sting
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
See more »

User Reviews

Half-cooked, bland and poorly conceived
1 September 2003 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Amanda Shelton is a young woman in charge of her mother's restaurant but not managing to keep the custom and standards up. Tom Bartlett is a wealthy businessman who has sunk $4million into a large restaurant in the area. When Amanda is approached by a mysterious man selling crabs, she buys them and happens to meet Tom. When her cooking suddenly becomes irresistible the business takes off, as does her relationship with Tom.

When a film has a magic crab as it's plot device, you can imagine that it needs something special to rise above the stigma that will surely accompany the plot summary, sadly this film has nothing but a magic crab to offer. The whole concept behind the mysterious man etc is never really explained (or at least, not satisfactorily) and in fact is simply dropped once it has been used to kick off the idea of cooking and romance. The presence of the crab is simply weird and doesn't work at all.

In terms of the romance, it simply doesn't cut it for me. At no point did I really feel anything between the two lead characters – their romance and gradual love never seemed real and never got me on board. The fact that the plot driver was so absurd simply took away whatever charm the romance would have had. The comedy has gone absent as well and I never laughed once, of course – I'm assuming here that I was meant to, maybe this wasn't meant to be funny.

The cast try hard but they are hampered at every step by a plot and a film that doesn't want to think about why or how things happen – it is clear that the writers had an idea of a woman who's cooking makes a man fall for her, they left it to the last minute to work out WHY this happens! Gellar is an OK actress, I've never really been a big fan but can appreciate good work where I see it. Here she is as bland and tasteless as her cooking is at the start of the movie and didn't inspire even the slightest interest in me. Flanery is better but only because his character is more expressive (and has to be to show the effect of Amanda's food), but that's not to say that his character is anything more than a paper thin man to satisfy half of the romance. The support cast is of some interest and has a few amusing bits and pieces, but again, no one is more than a cardboard character with bland lines and motivations.

Overall I was very disappointed with this film. I didn't expect much having read the plot summary, but I wasn't prepared for just how bland, silly and poorly developed it would be both as an idea and as a film. Not howlingly awful – but just about as average and stagnant a film as I've seen recently.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Germany | USA


English | French

Release Date:

5 February 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Magic Hour See more »


Box Office


$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,232,686, 7 February 1999

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | SDDS | DTS



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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