Ever get a cake that looks amazing but only tastes so-so? Sitting in Bars with Cake is the movie equivalent. On the surface, it has all the makings of a really good chick flick: BFFs, cocktails, and cake, spiked with the drama of a devastating diagnosis that disrupts the lives of a pair of besties out to conquer the world, or at least Los Angeles. But underneath, it’s not fully baked.

The film is ‘inspired by’ real-life events and the memoir/cookbook of the same name written by Audrey Shulman, who also penned the screenplay. It tries to follow the recipe of successful gal-pal and tear-jerker dramas involving besties but it’s missing a few key ingredients, including (and especially) character development. A significant portion of the film is fictionalized, relying on dramatic and creative license to beef up a story that lacks substance.

Sitting in Bars with Cake stars Yara Shahid and Odessa A’zion as Jane and Corinne, good friends and roommates with very different personalities. Jane is shy and reserved and dedicated to pursuing an education and career in law; Corinne is gregarious and outgoing and determined to climb the ladder at an LA music agency helmed by the tough yet compassionate Benita (Bette Midler).

For those of us of a certain age, the mere appearance, however brief, of the Divine Miss M is enough to evoke memories of Beaches – another film about friendship and dying. No cake.

Here’s the gist: Jane is a phenomenal baker who makes elaborate cakes as a way to de-stress while studying. One day she takes a birthday cake into a bar where her gal pals are celebrating. The guys in the bar are drawn to the amazing cake… and thus, to the gals. Corinne convinces Jane that they can use this cake thing to build confidence, have fun, and meet guys at various bars all across LA. The roomies commit to a full year of “cakebarring.” Their joyous experiment is interrupted by a devastating diagnosis that changes the lives of both young women, and tugs on the heartstrings.

Sitting in Bars with Cake swirls around commendable themes of friendship, tackling adversity, and charting your path into adulthood.  It’s an easy enough watch, in a Netflix (or Prime) and Chill kind of way. So as long as you keep expectations in check (and have Prime Video), nobody will judge if you want to grab a tissue, a glass of wine, and a slice of cake… and stream away.

Sitting in Bars with Cake premiered exclusively on Prime Video on September 8.

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