Chef Movie Review
Buried among all the over-blown, big budget summer blockbuster films, is a tasty little nougat titled CHEF. Hopefully, the film gets enough traction to play at a theater near you. While CHEF may not bring home the bacon in the terms of money or awards, this culinary tale touches the heart and tickles the taste buds.
Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) is a skilled Chef at an upscale restaurant ran by an owner (Dustin Hoffman) who has a distaste for change. After Carl is destroyed by a famous food critic’s (Oliver Platt) blog, he unwittingly gets caught up in a humorous Twitter battle that culminates in a viral video of him losing his cool. With the help of his young son (Emjay Anthony) and his trusty sous chef (John Leguizamo), Carl decides to start up a food truck and travel the nation, rekindling his passion for cooking while simultaneously mending a relationship with his boy.
CHEF is a rather simple story and almost void of any real conflict other than the rather obvious neglective father schtick. But what the film lacks in substance, it more than makes up with in heart. To be honest, the light issues were actually refreshing like a lean salad in place of a fatty fast food meal that has over saturated the market. Writer/director Jon Favreau returns to his independent roots and has put together a warm-hearted passion project. One could speculate the film is a literal metaphor for his own journey through Hollywood giving up creative control as he worked on big studio films like IRON MAN and COWBOYS & ALIENS.
CHEF may not be as prolifically influential or representative as Favreau’s SWINGERS, but it is a natural progression that is currently the movie he is passionate about and one my generation, who has grown from being single to having families, also prefer to watch now. While it is a nice, feel-good movie, CHEF isn’t without its flaws. Recruiting big name stars like Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman and Robert Downey Jr. is a nice advantage but also completely unnecessary as their characters barely have anything to do. The scene with Downey Jr., in particular, while somewhat funny, seemed terribly forced. Having an out of shape leading man with love interests way out of his league like Sofia Vergara and Scarlett Johansson may be a typical Hollywood formula, but that also diminishes believability a character may have otherwise garnished. But perhaps it’s reinforcement that women love a man who can cook.
Do what you love to be happy, always put your family first, and don’t be afraid to experience culture and food – these are the simple but positive themes ran throughout the film. From the Latino spice in Miami to the jazzy dough in New Orleans, CHEF uses a variety of local backdrops from different cities. The music and food bring on a whole new life to the film that will have you tapping your foot and drooling with hunger. Serving up a savory dish of authentic entertainment, CHEF is easily recommendable as that rare feel good movie that you can’t stop thinking about… mostly because your stomach will be growling.