Chef Blu-ray Review
Usually summer is filled with towering monstrosities, comic book heroes and more sequels than you can count on your hands; at least nowadays. CHEF is definitely a breath of fresh air. It has a charming cast, a witty, funny script and offers more flavors than most summer releases. It is far from being family friendly despite its theme of being with the ones you’re most happy with, family. It’s not just the feel good movie of the summer; it is hands down, the most pleasant movie of the year.
Carl Casper (Favreau) is a critically acclaimed chef who despite loving his expertise, seems to be trapped in a restaurant where the owner, who doesn’t know a single thing about the culinary arts, micromanages him. Carl definitely feels like the every man. He may be doing what he loves, but his situation is far from ideal. He’s not his own man and there’s the implication that his busy work schedule has led to his divorce and the dissolving relationship with his son, Percy (Anthony).
Well, he’s about to be given the perfect opportunity to quit his humdrum job after a critic blasts the food he has prepared one evening. Carl, not knowing how Twitter works, takes to Twitter to blast him back, not realizing everyone can see what he says. This segues into a perfect opportunity for him to flip out in the restaurant, phones trained on him, so that his outburst can propel him to become a viral media star. Like I said, perfect way to quit. With nothing left to lose and only his dreams with him, he heads to Florida to buy a food truck.
Carl fixes up a junker, has his best friend Martin (Leguizamo) help him craft the most delicious looking Cubanos I’ve ever seen, and reconnects with his son he’s slowly grown apart from. These three amigos trek back Los Angeles and create one of the best summer road trips movies of recent memory. A true highlight of companionship and family that truly feels genuine. It also gives Carl some much needed quality time to bond with Percy and for both to find out how much they truly mean to each other.
CHEF feels incredibly intimate to Favreau. Everything from exploding on a critic to his character Carl realizing what he really wants in life. While I’m sure Favreau had to be coached on cooking some of the best food porn on the planet, he flawlessly relays the heartfelt emotions of Carl. Some real telling moments is when Carl goes from wanting to create a food truck to spite his naysayers to finding that he wants to do what he loves with his only child.
Favreau also pieced together an impressive cast. I don’t know if he had to call in some favors, but every little role is spot on. Dustin Hoffman is great as Carl’s lukewarm boss at the beginning that refuses to take the tiniest of risks. Robert Downey Jr. comes in as the man who helps Carl set up the food truck. And who could forget Sofia Vergara as his ex-wife who’s still invested in Carl’s future. Even though you wonder how a chubby white guy could land a woman like her, but she’s so attractive, I think you’d question any guy she shows interest in. As for Emjay Anthony, I can’t image anyone else pulling off the role of Percy. So many quiet visual cues show he’s a boy who just wants to spend time with his dad.
CHEF is the most flavorful movie, writing wise, that I’ve seen out of the summer of 2014. It’s definitely a movie that can be appreciated more and more on multiple viewings, and I’m sure will age like a fine wine. I hadn’t watched it since it was in theaters and found myself falling in love with it all over again. This is a cast of characters that could easily have their own swear word filled sitcom. If you haven’t seen this yet. Buy it. If you have seen this. Buy it.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2:40:1) The presentation helps bring out the rich vibrant colors of their cross country trip. And who can forget the food? Food this good has to be in HD.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) No problems with the audio. A harmonious balance between music, kitchen/cooking sounds and dialogue.
Deleted Scenes (10:31): You can either play all of these together or separately. A good mix of deleted and extended scenes. One of them is Amy Sedaris takes, which appears to be some humorous ad-libbing. A lot of scenes that appear to be cut include Favreau and Anthony, which is unfortunate. Most of the time deleted scenes are the unnecessary fat trimmed from the meat of the movie, but these are still aesthetically pleasing.
Feature Commentary with Writer/Director John Favreau and CHEF Co-Producer Roy Choi: If all Favreau commentaries are like this, I got to revisit IRON MAN. He has a creative insight into almost every establishing shot and character motivation. He also has some interesting stories when it came to working the actors. If you love this movie (and you should), this is a must. It adds another delicious layer to this movie.