I will begin with a warning: Do not go to see this movie on an empty stomach!
Part visual love ode to food, part father/son redemption tale, Jon Favreau’s ‘Chef’ is a film that is very hard not to like.
Think ‘Rocky’ with a cooking knife.
Jon Favreau, director of studio blockbusters ‘Iron Man 1 & 2’, has gone back to his indie roots to create a wickedly clever comedy that delivers both a feast for the senses and nourishment for the soul.
Timeless in its ‘road to redemption’ theme, the plot is defined by a very modern dilemma – what happens next after you commit social media (and career) suicide?
Carl Caspar (Favreau) is a once cutting-edge chef flirting with a mid-life crisis. He is constantly at odds with controlling restaurant owner Riva (Dustin Hoffman). Divorced from his wife, he views his relationship with his son as little more than an inconvenience.
The story heats up early as Carl is forced to serve the same tired old menu to influential food critic Ramsay Michel(Oliver Platt). Quitting his job and goaded by Ramsay Michel’s scathing review, Carl has an epic meltdown that goes viral on social media.
Out of a job, humiliated and unemployable, Caspar is persuaded by his ex-wife (Sophia Vergara) and 11-year old son Percy (Emjay Anthony) to join them on holiday in Miami. His road to redemption begins as he revamps a food truck and decides to sell Cuban toasted sandwiches.
Driving from Miami back to L.A. with son Percy and former kitchen colleague (John Leguiziamo) as help, Caspar rediscovers his love of cooking and what it really means to be a loving, attentive father.
Whilst ‘Chef’ probably won’t win any awards, it is an immensely enjoyable film. What makes it so damn enjoyable is the wickedly clever plot (no film has portrayed the consequences of social media so effectively) and unassuming, likable characters.
Though there is an array of star cameos (including a scene stealer from Robert Downey Jr), it is the father and son acting performances of Jon Favreau and Emjay Anthony that make this film so memorable.
You can’t help but root for the underdog Caspar it is heart-warming to see him build a special relationship with his son Percy.
The Afro-Cuban soundtrack is outstanding and creates an upbeat tempo and infectious spirit for this film.
Favreau’s passionate and accurate depiction of a chef in action creates a salivating experience. All that chopping, drizzling, melting and sizzling made my mouth water. Numerous whispers of ‘yum’ and ‘ooh’ were uttered by most of my fellow cinema patrons.
Do yourself a favour and watch ‘Chef’ on the big screen before it ends its run. You will thank me and probably reward yourself with a late night feast at Brodburger after the movie like I did.