Chef (2014) by Jon Favreau

Warning: do not watch on an empty stomach.

Lost every year amid the summer blockbuster craze is the indie films that are released on much lower budgets. One of those films is Chef, which was written and directed by Jon Favreau, who also plays the lead character.

It’s about a Los Angeles-based chef named Carl Casper (Favreau) who works at a fancy restaurant but is at conflict with his stubborn, Chefuptight boss (Dustin Hoffman) about creative kitchen control. He wants to experiment and cook different food, but his boss wants him to stick to the traditional “fan favorites.”

Long story short, he quits, and rediscovers his culinary love by opening a food truck, allowing him the freedom to cook whatever he likes. He’s joined by his loyal friend Martin (John Leguizamo), who becomes his sous chef, and his son Percy (Emjay Anthony).

The trio travel from Miami to Los Angeles, making stops along the way and quickly becoming a popular mobile eatery.

The movie follows a pretty conventional story arch, and quite frankly, Jon Favreau is annoying throughout. It pains me to say it, because I still love him so much for Swingers, but this movie really asks the viewer to stretch their imagination.

For one, he spends the entire first half of the movie yelling at people. That was the first annoying thing.

Secondly, we’re supposed to believe that Favreau — who’s fatter than he’s ever been — was married to Sofia Vergara, who plays his ex-wife, and then began hooking up with Scarlett Johansson, who plays the maitre’d at the restaurant he quits.

Come on. I just couldn’t get past that. Fat slobs do not date — let alone marry — women who look like that. Especially two of them.

There was also a weird dynamic involving technology. I think it was going for a humorous angle about how technology is completely lost on older folks, but it overdoes it. Percy teaches his dad about Twitter, Vine and other apps throughout the movie, and it takes on too big of a role.

Everything in the movie happens to conveniently. The struggles are not believable.

That being said, there’s ton of familiar faces in the film (including a Robert Downey Jr. cameo), and whereas the conventional story-arch of a lost soul rediscovering his craft without any real struggle may have bored me, it’ll appeal to many others who prefer a straightforward movie.

As I mentioned, there’s also plenty of close-up shots of delicious-looking food.

There’s worse ways to spend two hours, but don’t expect to see anything that you couldn’t pick up at the 99-cent rack at your nearest Walmart.

Watch the trailer here.


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