Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"Chef" Review - Written by Tim Hellman

'CHEF': Four and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

Jon Favreau wrote, directed, co-produced and stars in this comedy flick about a chef who loses his job (at a successful restaurant) and then goes to work (for himself) driving a food truck. The movie costars Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Scarlett Johansson, Oliver Platt, EmJay Anthony, Dustin Hoffman and Robert Downey Jr.. Favreau learned to cook for the film by training with Roy Choi; one of the most famous food truck chefs there is. The food looks so delicious (in the movie) that it was painful to watch (due to the fact that it made me painfully hungry) but it is a good film.

Favreau plays Carl Casper; a successful but unhappy chef who feels like he's lost some of his creative freedom working for Riva (Hoffman), at his popular Los Angeles restaurant. When an arrogant critic (Platt) writes a horrible review of Carl's food Carl attacks him on Twitter (thinking he's sending him a private message) and later he's caught (on video) chewing the critic out in Riva's restaurant (which goes viral). After quitting the restaurant Carl can't find work anywhere else, due to his notorious internet reputation. He then finally gives into his ex-wife's (Vergara) idea of running a food truck. This gives him the chance to spend more time with his estranged son (Anthony), as they drive the vehicle home from Miami and sell cubanos out of it (Cuban sandwiches). Carl's old line cook, Martin (Leguizamo), also joins them on the adventure.

I like most of the movies Jon Favreau has written and or directed (my favorites being 'SWINGERS' and the first two 'IRON MAN' films). He's not the best actor but he is likeable enough to carry a film like this and he appears to have a lot of good friends willing to help him out, in smaller supporting roles (like Downey Jr. and Johansson from the 'IRON MAN' films). The movie does have a decent father/son story to tell but I was most drawn into it by it's beautiful look at cooking (and the passion that goes into the art). I was starving by the end of the film (so it's probably best viewed while eating) but I can't see anyone who loves food not enjoying this movie. It's beautifully shot and touching at times; it's also funny as well (all of the performances are fun to watch). I also really liked it's commentary on social media (most noticeably Twitter) and it's look at how an ignorant critic can really effect someone's life. It's not a perfect movie (the third act could have used some more work) but it's definitely got enough going on to make it a really enjoyable viewing experience. One of Favreau's better efforts.

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