Jon Favreau can go from directing/producing blockbusters such as the “Iron Man” franchise, and “The Avengers” to directing/starring in the new film “Chef” without missing a beat. It’s a tribute to Favreau getting back to his independent roots, which kicked off with his 1996 film “Swingers.”
Favreau stars as Carl Casper, a big loving guy, who’s the head chef at a popular Los Angeles restaurant. But when Carl wants to cook his own menu to impress a hip food blogger Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt), he clashes with the owner Riva (Dustin Hoffman) and is fired. This move pushes his ex-wife Inez (Sofía Vergara) to impress upon him more about the importance of entrepreneurship and becoming a food truck chef in which he can cook his own dishes. Casper, Inez and their young son Percy (Emjay Anthony) set out to Miami, where Inez’s other ex-husband (Robert Downey, Jr.) , offers him a food truck. The fun comes in when Casper, Percy and Casper’s former line cook /friend Martin (John Leguizamo) have to drive from Miami to Los Angeles. As they travel from city to city (New Orleans, Texas, etc.) they not only impress the masses with savory dishes the three of them bond and become closer than ever.
“Chef” is truly a tasty treat. While it plays like an independent road trip film (which is not bad thing in this case) it definitely has the stamp of Favreau - a seasoned director, producer, and actor. He knows what he wants and how to deliver it.
At two hours long, as “Chef” floats along you never want it to end. The shots of the food (Cuban sandwiches, steak, grill cheese, seafood) are so lovingly done that many of the theatergoers probably need to go out to eat right afterward.
The chemistry between Favreau and Vergara, Favreau and Leguizamo, and Favreau and Emjay is undeniably real. The other players – Hoffman, Downey, and Platt – had the perfect screen time and it never felt like a moment of just throwing in big names for the film. Scarlett Johansson also had a small role as Favreau’s love interest.
The soundtrack also delivered mainly with the downhome sounds of New Orleans brass bands and Cuban grooves. The guitar sounds of Gary Cark, Jr. were also heard.
Yes, the warmhearted film is perfect except for the R-rating for language. I’d say everyone needs to see this film for its themes including perseverance, working out relationships with friends, family, and acquaintances but many parents may be turned off by the language, which is a shame.