At the request of Jorge, I watched this surprising, quirky and eventually very good movie. But I’ve got to say, it is really difficult to categorize. I’d say it was a feel-good family film, but there is too much rather appalling language and a bit of adult content to fit there. I could put it in romantic comedies, but to be honest there simply isn’t enough romance to merit that one either. It’s too funny to be a drama and a little slow to be an adventure, but despite being a little sluggish in the first half, it really hit its stride in the second and in the end I was sorry to see the credits roll because I wanted to see more. (Fortunately, there’s a lot of goodies in the credits, so be sure to stay tuned afterwards.) Jon Favreau, who wrote and directed the movie, heads an amazingly star-studded cast as Carl Casper, a frustrated chef chafing under the micromanagement of posh restaurant owner Riva (Dustin Hoffman). Carl has the beat of Miami in his soul, but the confines of pretentious Brentwood restaurant Gauloise dictates a more stodgy and mainstream menu. John Leguizamo plays exuberant line cook Martin and Scarlett Johansson plays sleek, cool and collected restaurant hostess Molly. Sofia Vergara sparkles as Carl’s effortlessly sexy ex-wife Inez and Oliver Platt does an excellent job portraying thoughtlessly obnoxious food blogger Ramsey Michel.
If this is to be described as a romantic movie, it is about the human romance with food. Full of flavor, vitality and va-va-voom, it is very unwise to watch this on an empty stomach because it will make you very, very hungry. Jon Favreau infuses oddly endearing Chef Carl with such life and although food is a big part of the movie, the heart of the story lies with Carl and the slow awkward process of hammering out a real relationship with his son, Percy (Emjay Anthony). The beginning of the movie has some unfortunate harsh and abrupt cuts that jar you out of the story, but some of the random scenes included are quite priceless (I’m looking at you, singing and dancing skeleton marionette!). Percy gives Carl a crash course in social media, which turns into an internet sensation when Carl inadvertently starts an online war with food critic Ramsey Michel.
Several more big name stars pop up throughout the film, namely Amy Sedaris as PR guru Jen and Robert Downey Jr. as Inez’s truly bizarre ex-husband Marvin. Despite the short time some of these stars appear on screen, their performances are so good you instantly have a perfect feel for their characters that hint at rich back-stories you’re sure you already know. The tight bonds between the cooks in the kitchen are rock solid and I thoroughly appreciated a fly-by joke delivered by John Leguizamo, calling sleepy, rumpled but keen sous chef Tony (Bobby Cannavale) an ‘amuse-douche’. Lest you think vulgarity gets the better of this movie, beware because this is a stealthily unexpected tearjerker, a supremely satisfying story of personal discovery and a return to to roots of what really makes you happy. The depiction of the controlled chaos, flurries of activity and charged atmosphere that characterizes some of the best kitchens is excellent and a spicy driving soundtrack captures the flavor of an array of American cities, so infectious it makes you want to get up and dance. But then you’d have to leave your food. Tough call! – BETHANY
For more on the simply titled Chef, visit The Internet Movie Database
Lava cake? Again? You can’t be serious.
How can you want kettle corn when there’s this perfectly beautiful fruit?
Jon Favreau did his own cooking by training with food truck chef Roy Choi. Choi sent Favreau to a week of intensive French culinary schooling, where Favreau sharpened his knife skills and learned how to make sauces. “I brought him into the kitchen, and he just kind of fit in,” Choi recalls. “I threw him a couple tests, like a case of chives, or a case of onions, or peel two cases of avocados. Just to see where his mind and his situation and his abilities were and how interested he was in these things. He just attacked them. He really became a part of it.” – source, IMDB.com
Carl, Percy and Inez
Welcome to the El Jefe truck, now serving mouth-watering Cuban soul food at a city near you!
Effortlessly chic and unflappable restaurant hostess Molly (Scarlett Johansson).
Robert Downey Jr as Marvin, a Miami businessman who won’t let anyone walk on his floors without protective booties.
Oliver Platt as food blogger Ramsey Michel. Interestingly enough, Platt’s brother is an actual New York food critic.
Amy Sedaris in her short but memorable turn as jaded and pushy media relations manager Jen.
And have I mentioned the food? I dare you to watch without immediately wanting to eat all of it.
Photos courtesy of Aldamisa Entertainment, Kilburn Media, Fairview Entertainment, Open Road Films and StudioCanal