They say don’t go see this film hungry. Well duh. Who goes to the movies and doesn’t pig out on buttery popcorn, sugary soda, salty pretzels, cheesy pizza and artery clogging chicken tenders? Actually, I shouldn’t write this review hungry because now I’m getting hungry thinking about all the food served up in the really funny, charming Chef. Jon Favreau plays a once former hot shot chef making a comeback as the owner/operator of the hottest food truck in town and he’s doing it with a great cast of characters that also serve up plenty of wit and laughs.
I’m ordering you to make that quiche and make sure the flambe is flamboyant.
In playing Carl, Favreau actually apprenticed for several months in order to look believable in the role. That’s why you’ve been seeing him on virtually every talk show cooking up exotic dishes while discussing Chef and for good reason. Favreau and his Miami kitchen staff, including John Leguizamo as Martin and Bobby Cannavale as Tony, all turn in very convincing performances in the kitchen. The restaurant is run by Riva, played by Dustin Hoffman (what the hell kind of name is Riva?), who demands Carl cook what’s on the menu and not gamble on something new to impress tough as nails food critic Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt). After a poor review of his food, Carl goes way overboard in a verbal beat down on Ramsey which then goes viral, and quits the restaurant with no other job prospects. Of course he opens up to his insanely hot girlfriend Molly (Scarlett Johansson) about his troubles and tells his insanely hot ex-wife Inez (Sofia Vergara) in Los Angeles that he’s got jobs lined up. Why? They both share bicoastal custody of their son Percy (Emjay Anthony) and Carl doesn’t want Inez to do anything to prevent him from visiting him.
I’m el Jefe around this bitch!
When Inez does find out she actually hooks him up with a former lover/investor Marvin (Robert Downey Jr.) and convinces him to follow his dream to cook the food he wants to cook… in a food truck. With Percy and Martin in tow, Carl brings Percy back to mom in a cross country food tour adventure that brings delicious culinary ideas to Carl, and also brings him closer to Percy who he knows he’s been neglecting. But never mind the mush, there are plenty of funny moments and a feel good ending that is unexpected. In many ways this is a comeback story. Carl goes from being the hotshot chef to working his way down to complacency, to being out of a job. With the food truck, Carl works his way back up to being the hottest chef in town and also works his way to being the best father he can be for Percy.
I seriously hope people don’t find out we’re barbequeing tofu beef.
Casting-wise, it’s a mostly good cast and they play their respective roles nicely. I do however question who’s idea it was to make Scarlet Johansson and Sofia Vergara Favreau’s current and former love interest respectively ( Favreau is the director and one of the producers on this film hint, hint). Someone tell me how a fat guy can score with these two babes. Downey’s appearance is brief but memorable and Hoffman adds a lot of acting muscle while Leguizamo and Cannavale also do excellent portrayals of veteran sous chefs. Vergara however, just doesn’t seem to add anything but her, I’ll say it, annoying accent. Brought in to play a sassy Latina and no doubt for added star power because of her role on Modern Family and sex appeal, Vergara is nice to look at, but you sit there wondering who else could’ve done a better job. The answer is anybody else. Can people stop hiring Vergara for anything else and let her star fade away in anonymity when her TV show ends, please? Thank you.
Please let that be the other hot actress playing my love interest…
This film will win you over based on the story and some of the heartfelt lessons and laughs it provides. It’s a good solid script, features mostly good acting performances in which you see many of the actors do a very believable job in unconventional roles for them, and it doesn’t drag. It’s perfect at a run time of just under two hours. But you’ll definitely want to load up on a big tub of popcorn when you go check this one out.
Do a Shot: when you find out Jon Favreau’s insanely hot girlfriend is Scarlett Johansson.
Do a Double: when Robert Downey Jr’s character suddenly appears out of nowhere and basically plays a parodied version of himself.
Have a Drink: and pretend you’re enjoying it with all the food—and there’s a lot of food—shown in the film.