Directed by: Jon Favreau Rated: R Runtime: 1 hr. 54 min Screenwriter: Jon Favreau
Studio: Aldamisa Entertainment, Fairview Entertainment
Cast: Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Emjay Anthony, Oliver Platt, Bobby Cannavale, Robert Downey Jr.
Warning, if you love food, this movie might cause you to drool like my Great Pyrenees begging for food.
Many adults are merely content with their jobs or careers. In Chef, however, Carl Casper (Favreau) loves what he does. To cook. To create. In real life, it’s inspiring to see such a person who enjoys what they do. Favreau creates and depicts such a person, character with chef Carl Casper.
Carl is head chef at a popular LA restaurant owned and operated by Riva (Hoffman). When a review one night by famous food critic Ramsey Michel (Platt) ruffles feathers, a Twitter war ensues. Shit happens, and Carl is left looking for a place that will appreciate his creative, delicious endeavors.
Outside the single-minded vortex of food and cooking is Carls family. His ex-wife Inez (Vergara) and their son Percy (Anthony). While there isn’t a backstory per se of their marriage, the audience understands Carl’s priorities and how parental responsibility isn’t high on his list. He isn’t so self-centered that he won’t spend time with Percy or go on a trip last minute with him and his ex-wife, essentially to be a babysitter for a weekend for his own kid. I’ve never met ex’s that get along so well, so in terms of believably take what you will from this part of the script/character development.
Going along with the believability…is when Carl meets Marvin (RDJ). Awkward…and Marvin gives Carl a food truck because Inez talked them into it. You know what, it’s okay. It’s a fun movie, really, so go with it.
The actual girth of the film is Carl’s journey of discovery and self-reflection. The best ingredients for this plot and character arcs involve Percy and Carl’s former line-cook, Martin (Leguizamo). There is such great chemistry between them; you see the love, inspiration, respect, and bonds.
Anthony’s Percy comes off just right. Not too bright for his character’s age and not so whiny or dejected that you wish he wasn’t there. It’s hard to get kid roles right. Leguizamo is a welcome addition to everything I’ve ever seen him in. He adds humor, authenticity, and energy to contrast Carl’s more serious side.
A film needs good pacing, just like a kitchen and this movie has it. While it is about Carl’s journey, it’s also about the food. Unlike a regular person Instagramming every meal they make at home, the food in a film based on a chef should be a focal point. The creations chef Carl makes are well presented and colorful. If you choose to see this movie, don’t do it on an empty stomach. That would be worse than going grocery shopping while hungry.
This movie is stacked with a wonderfully talented cast selection; they all do justice to their respective roles. An easy film to have missed when it came out; Chef is an under-appreciated, relatable story with a comedic backbone.
Chef is undoubtedly worthy of your time and a place on your watchlist, provided you view it on a full stomach.
—a pen lady