Chef

Source: Screen Rant http://screenrant.com/chef-reviews-2014-movie

Director: Jonathan Favreau

Cast: Jonathan Favreau, John Leguizamo, Emjay Anthony, Sofia Vergara, Dustin Hoffman, Scarlett Johansson, Oliver Platt, Robert Downey Jr., Russell Peters

Rating: 3.5/5

Chef is a comedy written, produced, directed, and starring the very talented and successful Jonathan Favreau, who has written, directed, produced, and/or starred in several TV shows, including Friends, and films such as Swinger, Elf, and Iron Man 1, 2 and 3. He started his career, though, in the indie film world and wrote The Chef, which was the closing screening of Toronto’s Open Roof Festival.

Chef tells the story of Carl Casper, played by Favreau, a divorced Chef and a neglectful father consumed by his career. He continuously butts heads with his current employer Riva (Dustin Hoffman), the owner of the restaurant where he works in Los Angeles. Carl wants to introduce a more creative and diverse menu, but the owner wants to play it safe and stick to the basics. Carl follows orders even when a well-known food critic Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt) comes to visit and gives him a terrible review. Carl starts a twitter fight with Ramsey which culminates in him quitting his job and having a public confrontation with the critic. The altercation goes viral and prevents from Carl finding another job, so his ex-wife Inez (Sofia Vergara) takes him back to Miami, his home town, and helps him start a food truck business. He reconnects with Inez and their son, Percy (Emjay Anthony), and gains autonomy over his craft.

While most people may not be able to relate to Carl’s cooking inclination, many can relate to not feeling fulfilled and failing to reach their potential. Often societal pressures or fear pushes people to choose the path of least resistance. At the end of the day though, the only one who can change it is the person who has chosen the undesired lifestyle. In Carl’s case, it takes something as drastic as public humiliation to force him out of his unhappy but comfortable zone. While the individual must start the journey, it doesn’t have to be traversed alone. “No man is an island entire of itself ” and “many hands make light work.” In his time of need, Carl’s support system, his ex-wife, son, and friend Martin (John Leguizamo), tap into all their resources to help him succeed.

Favreau, as he often does, has managed to create a fun and funny movie with heart. My only complaint would be that I wished the film gave us more information about Carl’s romantic relationships. It’s not clear why Carl and Inez separated when they seem to get along well and still care about each other. The movie’s, only “romantic” scene is a montage with Carl and Molly (Scarlett Johansson), his co-worker. This scene captures them snuggling, before it cuts to Carl cooking for Molly and ends when Molly starts eating. But this is in no way a deterrent, especially considering that Favreau wrote the script in 2 weeks.

What the movie lacks in romantic detail, it makes up for it with an upbeat sound track, beautiful scenes of LA and Miami, and a bit of an insight into the Cuban Miami culture. The star by far though is the very adorable Emjay Anthony, who plays Favreau’s son in the movie. He gives a great performance, he has great timing, and he steals every scene. I give the move 3 and half stars, and highly recommend it since this movie has already proven to be a box office success.

Esther Simera

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