Written by: Jon Favreau
Starring: Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jnr
Story: After a breakdown in his restaurant job and a difficult divorce, Chef Carl Casper decides to start a food truck to try and revitalize his love of cooking.
Isn’t Jon Favreau just everyone’s favourite guy?! If he wasn’t before, ‘Chef’ will make you think twice. Favreau commands pretty impressive attention at the credit roll: he wrote, directed, produced, and starred in this feat which will leave you hungry for more!
It has been quite a while since we have seen something quite so uplifting without being ‘preachy’. The script is full bodied and delightful. Favreau is clever to stay away from cliches. Of course, many people have called this story boring and overly simple, but it strikes a really fine balance between internal and external struggle. Our protagonist is reliable and relatable, arguably one of the most realistic main characters we have had in a long time. The relationships he has with his son, friend, ex wife, and ‘kinda-sorta-girlfriend’ are unavoidable and dealt with in a true to life, no apologies sort of way. And of course, his biggest relationship, the one he has with food, is our quiet conflict. There is no big struggle in this film, and it actually plays out more in the structure of documentary that anything else. What we witness is a number of small struggles and small triumphs much like life for most of us out here in the real world.
Favreau gives us an incredibly likeable main character. He brings a lot of heart to the film and it is clear to see that this really was a passion project for him. Sofia Vergara and Robert Downey Jnr are in the film (nothing notable), and Scarlett Johansson appears and pouts for a while (also nothing noteable). Stand out performances after Favreau come from John Laguizamoand Emjay Anthony. Russell Peters provides a funny cameo, too. The real fault here is that the supporting cast are underdeveloped characters. There is no depth to Vergara’s role (does she have a job? Why was she ever married to this frumpy loser chef?) and Johansson was really quite pointless. With the film running for just under two hours, much of their screen time could of been cut to avoid confusion.
The cinematography is stellar, and this is not a film that should be watched on an empty stomach! Countless meals are prepared to perfection and presented so delightfully that you might just find yourself salivating.
‘Chef’ is a warm fuzzy. It is perfect for a rainy afternoon with a hot cooked meal when you’re in the mood to smile (on the inside!). Does it have problems? Yes. Mainly in script and character development, but this doesn’t ruin the movie. It is still a whole hearted treat.