Chef

chef

Release: Friday, May 9, 2014 (limited)

[Theater]

THE USE OF THIS VERY BAD MOVIE POSTER IS INTENTIONAL. IS THIS THE WORST MOVIE POSTER OF THE YEAR?

Finding his full-time position as an under-appreciated bodyguard to the world’s most famous egomaniac, Tony Stark, to be a complete chore, Jon Favreau recognizes that the time is now to break out of Dodge. Life’s too short to spend it being harangued by insecure billionaires.

It’s almost poetic, this shift in focus for the 22-year acting veteran, a big guy with a big spirit whose comedic timing and amiability will never cease to be in high demand. Favreau is an increasingly ubiquitous name, an actor who sets aside equal time for the epic action adventure as well as stories that have much more modest ambitions by comparison. In the case of his latest creation Chef, a delicious slice of cultural and culinary appreciation, he’s very much content with small, tasty appetizers before heading back into serving up main courses once more, and inevitably.

Not that there’d be anything wrong with seeing the dude pop up in more Marvel epics. For the time being, though, it’s nice to see him this passionate for material of this sort. Though the film is beautiful, there’s less glory in these films, a fact Favreau must surely acknowledge but is willing to accept as well.

Chef tells the story of an acclaimed cuisinier at a top-tier Los Angeles restaurant who simply lives to cook. Carl Casper has an idealogical struggle with the restaurant manager, Riva (Dustin Hoffman), who insists that, on the night when a high-profile food blogger plans on dining there and reviewing the experience, Carl and his kitchen staff stick to the same old menu the restaurant has always relied upon. Considering the significance of the occasion, Carl feels it would be in the restaurant’s best interest to mix things up.

Of course, this is a movie; things will not be getting mixed up. At least, not in a way that’s quite so obvious. The reviewer comes, he eats, but he does not conquer. He also does not concur with what has been served to him on this occasion. His subsequent review slashes the establishment, and the blogger — a prickly man named Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt) — goes to particular lengths to make the review a personal attack against Carl. The combination of the bad review and the struggle he faces with Riva together become the catalyst for Carl’s resignation. Hence, the narrative’s refocusing on how his changing career path will come to affect friends, family and most importantly, his character as both food enthusiast and father.

Favreau’s positively mouth-watering film is anything but original in terms of its conclusion, or even its design, yet it remains a creative and rich production. It cleverly combines this fictionalized yet authentic world that Carl inhabits with current social trends. Although Twitter’s inexplicable popularity isn’t likely to double overnight, Chef admittedly makes such cross-promotion feel less like a cool gimmick and more of a narrative tool, a natural development of a relationship forged between a wayward father and a desperate son, two characters both more in need of one another than either would ever care to vocalize. It is through Carl’s passion for cuisine he has the opportunity to make up for time lost.

As Carl figures out what the next step in his life will need to be, earnest drama simmers at the heart of this story like the hot juicy center of a tender steak. Favreau beautifully sells the indecisiveness of his character, as he struggles to make sense of what has just happened to him following the negative review and the actions he took to try and rectify it. It’s just the right amount, as well — there’s neither excessive fat nor such a lack thereof to make it a tough chew. Favreau deserves credit for having an eye for interesting subject matter, above all else.

What’s more universal than the appreciation of good food? (Well, other than good beer, of course. 😉 )

chef-movie-poster-16

4-0Recommendation: Fan of Jon Favreau? Fan of food? Why not unite both passions in one by seeing this delightfully funny and heartwarming treat from an enviable talent. Equal parts endearing and insightful, Chef mostly works because of its rock-solid performances — including a Favreau that might never have been better — and a genuinely grounded-in-reality vibe. You can almost smell the food through the celluloid. I wouldn’t blame anyone for trying to eat the screen, either. . .and if ever there’s been a film that deserves my shortbread pie rating system, it’s this one.

Rated: R

Running Time: 115 mins.

Quoted: “There are chefs who cook food that they believe in, and that people will try because they are open to new experiences and will end up liking it!”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com 

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24 thoughts on “Chef

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  3. I really hope Chef comes to my cinema. I’m a sucker for a nice, sweet film like it appears to be. It’s refreshing to take a breathe and step away from all these summer blockbusters and watch a smaller movie from time to time.Great review.

    • Hey Brian, thanks so much for your comment man. I apologize for taking so long to get back to you. I guess my notification thing on WP glanced over it.

      If you find yourself partial to these kinds of small-time movies, then I hope you get it too. It doesn’t get much better and more fun than Favreau’s ‘Chef.’

  4. Honestly dude…you are really starting to piss me off.

    That is “Under the Skin”….okay…”Locke”….and now “Chef”. I have not got to see any of them…not one…so stop right now, thank you very much. See…look what you made me do. You made me quote the Spice girls in anger. On a serious note…I am jealous as hell!

    I am surprised that this one isn’t advertised, marketed well or playing everywhere considering the all-star cast. It appears to be a relatively quiet film that not many folks have heard about! Anyways, kudos to you for not mentioning how hot Scarlett is a single time in your review. Now that I think about it…I do not recall you mentioning her at all. Interesting that this film is more interesting than how hot she is!

    • hahahaha!!! Well, you know I do what I can to frustrate and possibly infuriate my readers and fellow bloggers!!! haha

      I know that feeling though man. Dan the Man is frequently responsible for me being frustrated for seeing alllll of these incredible-looking flicks well ahead of time! I think there’s something to this Press Pass Access thing. I need to get on that, but recently I think i’ve come into some luck as the local indie/arthouse theater has really been churning out the good stuff lately. I think this weekend they got Palo Alto so I can’t wait to check that out when I get back home. I’m actually visiting family in New Jersey right now so my theater attendance has really slacked off, with the exception of A Million Ways to Die in the West (ughh..)

      And as far as Scarlett is concerned — holy shit you’re right. This movie was so deliciously good that I completely overlooked her in this!! She’s a doll and I love her and yet I still forgot her here. Not to say she wasn’t memorable but there was just so much to love about this film. I eagerly await your review if and when you can get to Chef

      • Do you know how to get a Press Pass Access? Because if those are available in Canada…I will get on that ASAP! I’d imagine it is just a States thing though because I have never heard of them here! That Palo one looks decent, let me know how it is! Shame about Million Ways!

        I will watch it as soon as I get a chance! Have fun in Jersey dude.

      • I’m going to start looking into the Press Pass thing. I am not certain I can get a hold of one but I do know that if you are a writer for a local paper or ssomething that’s a sure-fire way of getting one. By virtue of just running a movie blog though, I’m not sure if that alone entitles one to a P.P. But I’m going to find out. I would really really like to be able to attend pre-screenings and movies for free (if possible). 😀 😀

    • Jon Favreau likes his food, I like his food, we all like his food!!!!! Join in on this man, it’s a deliciously good time!!! You’re welcome as always man, happy to be of service. 😀

    • I can’t wait for you to see it man. I really hope you enjoy it man. It was a good little time.

    • Excellent man, I’m sure it will deliver (on most levels anyway). It’s not THE most original story ever, but man is it a true charmer and a great feel-good film. Plus it’s another reason to love Jon Favreau. 😀

  5. Nice to see Jon Favreau back to making movies he clearly wants to make, and not just those big, action blockbusters. Good review Tom.

    • Definitely, it’s a great change of pace. I think he’s good in Iron Man and his directorial chops have been proven so far, but this was just great.Very different stuff for him, even if the story is a little well-worn.

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