This high-calorie piece of crafty filmmaking oddly isnâ€™t bad for your health. Served with spicy comedy and a side of tender drama, CHEF is an edible film with so much authentic, rich-tasting style, itâ€™ll be a while before one does away with its aftertaste.
Iâ€™ve said it several times before and Iâ€™ll say it again: Jon Favreau is one of our most talented filmmakers to date. His resume speaks for itself. From his earlier days of simple films like MADE all through his more contemporary, blockbustery crushes with Marvelâ€™s IRON MAN, the swag this man carries within the film industry cannot be ignored, must be respected and can only be admired seeing as no matter what level of budget this manâ€™s working with, he brilliantly has a knack for whatâ€™s right when constructing a film.
In his latest, CHEF, the story follows Chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) suddenly quitting his job at a high-end LA-based restaurant after refusing to compromise his creative integrity for its controlling, neurotic, asshole owner (Dustin Hoffman). At an impulsive snap of what may seem irresponsible decision-making, heâ€™s left to figure out what’s next. From one moment to the next, Carl finds himself in Miami, where he unexpectedly teams up with his ex-wife (Sofia Vergara), his buddy (John Leguizamo) and his son (Emjay Anthony) to launch a reluctant, yet last-line-of-hope food truck. Taking to the roads across a journey back home, Carl returns to his roots to reignite his passion for the kitchen and enthusiasm for life and love!
With as much love and passion as we see Chef Carl work up those pans of mouth-watering foods, we can also see the passion Favreau implements in interesting, simple story-telling. Here we have a film thatâ€™s way too good to be ignored. Throughout the entire run, there isnâ€™t a moment of drag or wonder. Complimented with an interesting cast of characters (including Scarlett Johansson and Iron Man himself, Mr. RDJ), as writer and director CHEF may be a metaphoric way of Favreau exposing his artistic journey as a filmmaker. Scaling it down a bit and going back to his basics. Sparking up that fuse that once burned as he broke into the industryâ€¦ (I donâ€™t know â€“ my interpretation)
Either way, performances in this film were simple, subtle and quite smooth to watch. Favreauâ€™s intense, yet balanced do-the-right thing approach we see in all of his characters cleary shines, especially during moments where Carl may be most vulnerable. As does Leguizamoâ€™s touch and Vergaraâ€™s who compliment the spicy side of what the script provides. But with small, yet memorable roles, Iâ€™d say the back bones of this film have to be Dustin Hoffman and Oliver Platt, who plays a food critic that pretty much launches the minor lunacy that causes Carl to make such impulsive, yet interesting moves.
Paced well, CHEF is the perfect example of that little film we always hear of that causes big reactions. The film not only provides good laughs, but also carries interesting and informative drama. Covering angles that present the challenges of balance between divorced-based fatherhood and profession (for example), thereâ€™s a good amount in CHEF that tugs at real life issues. Now itâ€™s not to say the film doesnâ€™t have any missteps, but one can oversee it considering thereâ€™s way more good than a small plot-hole I spotted.
As a whole, CHEF is one of the yearâ€™s most interesting films and crafty comedies Iâ€™ve seen to date. If anything, this is food porn filled with more lust than one expects. Commercially there may be a â€œchallenge,â€ but who cares â€“ quality will always outweigh quantity.
Grade: A / Genre: Comedy / Rated: R / Run Time: 1 Hr. 55 Min.
Starring: Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Sofia Vergara, Emjay Anthony, Bobby Cannavale, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey, Jr.
Directed by: Jon Favreau