Monday 3 November 2014

Bonus Review: Chef (2014)

It's hard to think of anything that's really wrong with Chef. I tried, I really did, but I just ended up realising that it was almost a perfect little gem of a film. Okay, there's maybe an ending that feels both too tidy and also a bit rushed, but that's about it.

Jon Favreau, who wrote and directed the film, stars as Carl Casper, a chef who has a major meltdown when he locks horns with a food critic/blogger (Oliver Platt). This leads to him reassessing his values, which in turn leads to him getting a van and making the kind of simple, tasty food that he thinks other people will enjoy as much as he does. He takes his son (Emjay Anthony) along with him, and also benefits from the help of his colleague, Martin (John Leguizamo). Perhaps this simpler set-up can help the chef to remember what he loved about cooking in the first place.

Alright, I guess predictability is another flaw I could mention. If I wanted to. Yet I'm not going to. Chef is comfort food, much like the creations made by Carl when he gets his van rolling. The whole movie feels like a perfect blend of form and content, in the same way as The Wolf Of Wall Street, despite the two movies being worlds apart in many other ways. Favreau has spent some time delivering huge, glossy, blockbusters, and with no small amount of success, so it's hard not to see his move back to a smaller, more intimate, movie as an obvious parallel between the man he is behind the camera and the character he portrays onscreen.

The cast are all pretty perfect, and seem to be enjoying the whole experience from start to finish. Favreau is believable and earnest, without ever being far too innocent and wholesome, while Leguizao has one of his best roles in a long, long time. Young Emjay Anthony is a likable kid, and if you can tell me a single occasion when Platt hasn't been worth watching then I will call you a liar and blow raspberries at you. It's just a shame that he doesn't get more screentime here. Sofia Vergara is yet another delight, in a movie full of them, as Casper's ex-wife, and the mother of his son. She still has his best interests at heart because when he does well then it makes life better for their son. But she also just wants him to recapture what used to make him so happy. Bobby Cannavale does well playing a character who could have been all too easy to dislike, and there are small roles for Dustin Hoffman, Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr, with the latter on fine form during the entirety of his cameo appearance.

There's a wonderful soundtrack accompanying many scenes, a solid script, so many shots of tasty food that you'll be hungry by the time the credits roll, and lots of sunshine ensuring that this is a light film, in almost every sense of the word. It has a little something for everyone, and I highly recommend it. And chefs, it goes without saying, will probably LOVE it.


I cook up occasional treats myself. And by cook I mean . . . . write. And by treats I mean . . . . . . . . . more reviews. Anyway, this is mentioning my e-book chock full of tasty reviews.

The UK version can be bought here -

And American folks can buy it here -

As much as I love the rest of the world, I can't keep up with all of the different links in different territories, but trust me when I say that it should be there on your local Amazon.

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