Starring Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Emjay Anthony, Sofia Vergara, Oliver Platt
Directed and written by Jon Favreau
IMDB Rating: 7.3
The brainchild of Mr. Favreau, Chef is trying to be a feel-good film with a twist, and he actually created something I really wasn’t expecting.
Also, I’m going to try to avoid using food metaphors throughout this review, because that would just suck.
Chef stars Favreau as Carl Casper, a hugely respected creative chef with a divorced family that is falling apart. He is forced by the restaurant manager to cook food that sells instead of the creative food that made his name. The more standard food is lamented by a respected food critic (Platt) who once praised him for his creativity. As a result he flips at the boss, getting him fired, and at the critic. His outburst goes viral online, making it almost impossible for him to get another chef gig. His ex-wife (Vergara) wants him to look after their son Percy (Anthony) while on a trip to Miami, where his cooking career began, and is persuaded to buy a food truck. He travels back to California on the food truck with his close friend and son, and it not only reminds him why he loved cooking, but brings him closer to his estranged son.
Before seeing this I thought it would be way too sweet, happy-go-lucky for my liking, but this film actually has much more soul than that. It’s less of a finding yourself film and more of a coming of age, father-and-son film which I really didn’t expect. Don’t get me wrong, it is still seriously happy, but it does it in a cool, rugged way that it really didn’t bother me, it just made me smile! When it got three-quarters or so of the way through, I was sat their waiting thinking “there’s got to be a sad moment soon, just for the sake of story” but it never really comes. There’s no disaster, or something going wrong and causing a fight, almost everything goes right after the first hour or so! There is one sad father-and-son moment near the end but it’s over in a flash, quickly going back to the cool feel the film keeps throughout. It’s also a fairly funny film without actually telling a single proper joke, which I thought was seriously impressive! Some of the story and themes of Chef are a little cliché, but the way the story is told gives it an edge which stops it being too run of the mill.
The acting in this film is pretty solid too. Jon Favreau does a solid job leading his film, delivering a passionate and real performance. John Leguizamo is also good in one of the biggest roles I’ve seen him play – he just always seems to play minor characters! This film also boasts a lot of big-time actors in bit-part roles, which I guess highlights the respect Favreau commands in the film industry. Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman and Robert Downey Jr. all play small roles in this film.
The directing in this film is pretty good by Favreau, a man who has a lot of experience in the area. Some of the shots may not be highly original, but he has created a bright, vibrant image that truly portrays what he is trying to do with this – trying to create something happy, cool and heartfelt. I was also a sucker for the Cuban theme running throughout the last half which was pretty awesome, but to be fair you can’t really go wrong with a film starring great food!
Overall, Chef is a really simple, cool film! Its bright, funny, cool vibe throughout keeps you smiling from beginning to end, and I would really recommend it! But bring snacks, you’ll get hungry!