Chef: Movie Review
Cast: Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Sofia Vergara, Robert Downey Jr, Dustin Hoffman, Emjay Anthony
Director: Jon Favreau
Written and directed by Favreau, Chef is clearly a passion project.
Favreau stars as temperamental chef Carl Casper, who's spent years building up his name within the food industry, but blows it all away one day when he becomes so incensed with an online review. (Seriously, who pays attention to online reviewers, anyway?)
When the video of his explosion goes viral, Casper realises there's more going on and that he's desperately unhappy with his life. Estranged from his son, separated from his wife and desperate to recapture his flair and integrity, as well as his culinary voice, he goes back to basics.
Heading with his wife Inez (Vergara) to Miami, and with his son in tow, Casper reignites his own passion for cooking, by starting up a food truck - and so begins a (predictable) road journey to self-enlightenment...
Chef is not without its charms, even if this none too original road trip cum father / son bond-fest rambles and meanders to a totally predictable and unabashedly crowd pleasing denouement ( thanks largely to a completely pointless final scene).
An overweight Favreau is amiable enough as the chef who wants to pursue his heart rather against the soulless wishes of the owner (Dustin Hoffman) when a food critic savages his culinary fare.
Cooking up reasonable chemistry with his ex wife Ines ( Modern Family's Sofia Vergara) and his hitherto distanced son Percy (Anthony), Chef works best when the set up of getting Casper to quit and follow his heart is ditched for a road trip that mixes sumptuous food porn with landscapes rarely seen on the big screen. (Even if by then, great actors like Robert Downey Jr and Scarlett Johansson have been cast aside or rendered redundant - step forward Vergara).
The rapport with Leguizamo as the truck's sous chef works well and the company is perfectly affable as the El Jefe Food Truck dream becomes reality.
A scene where Chef Casper rails against Oliver Platt's food critic for simply " shitting on my shit" bristles and simmers with sub-text but that's the closest Chef comes to providing any bite or slightly bitter after taste.
Directorally, Favreau over-uses some flourishes (such as the twitter bird flying off the screen each time he tweets) but pieces together a road movie which will appeal to foodies and those willing to satiate their appetites on little more than gentle bonding and food eye- candy. Just don't be surprised if this charming movie leaves you feeling a little bloated thanks to an over-extended run time and distinctly saccharine denouement.