Perhaps the first time you should do 'movie & dinner' rather than the other way around, "Chef" is a delightful comedic romp that despite being a little overstuffed was a supremely enjoyable and heartfelt cinematic meal that keeps it all as beautifully simple as it possibly can.
Chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) is on top of the world, as one of the best chefs in Los Angeles working in a top flight restaurant making the kind of dishes that people would die for. However all that changes when his desire to go off the menu results in him losing his restaurant job and getting into a Twitter war with a prominent food critic (Oliver Platt). Back at square one, he starts up a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative promise, rediscover his joy of cooking, and piece together his estranged family.
After "Cowboys & Aliens" got (unfairly) panned by audiences and critics, it only makes sense for Jon Favreau to get back to basics and while "Chef" could have used a little trimming, it is easily a comedic return to form from the guy who gave us "Swingers" almost 20 years ago.
Favreau has a certain effortless flow about him and the way he works as he does the best with compelling yet ever so slightly flawed characters navigating their own existences. The movie does linger on a few moments and could have used a quick, stiff kick in the rear to ultimately get the story going as it was too concerned with some unnecessary moments but the pace of the narrative ends up working to its benefit as we sit with these characters much like we would a good meal.
Not everyone can write/direct/produce and star in their own movie, but Favreau is so in tune with the material that it just works to absolute perfection. The rest of the ensemble is rife with familiar faces and memorable cameos but Sofia Vergara as his estranged wife and Emjay Anthony as his son Percy do some good work as we follow our hero getting his groove back.
Ultimately a movie about finding your bliss, "Chef" works as Favreau finds his wheelhouse once again telling us a vital story that reminds us how important it is truly is to find that something that provides you purpose, even something as simple as a great Cuban sandwich.
4 out of 5 stars.
"Chef" opens at theatres across Canada tomorrow, please check with local listings for show times.