Chef (2014)

chef_2014_poster
Chef (2014)
  • Time: 115 min
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Director: Jon Favreau
  • Cast: Jon Favreau, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Sofía Vergara, John Leguizamo, Oliver Platt

Storyline:

Carl Casper is an acclaimed chef with a family life that seems as decaying as his artistic freedom. Those frustrations boil over into a raucous viral-videoed public confrontation against a restaurant critic who panned his cooking of food that his boss ordered him to make against his instincts. Now with his career ruined, Carl’s ex-wife offers an unorthodox solution in Miami: refit an old food truck to offer quality cooking on his own terms. Now with his young son, Percy, and old colleague, Martin, helping, Carl takes a working trip across America with that truck to rediscover his gastronomic passion. With Percy’s tech savvy and Martin’s enthusiasm, Carl finds that he is creating a traveling sensation on the way home. In doing so, Carl discovers he is serving up more than simply food, but also a deeper connection with his life and his family that is truly delicious in its own way.

7 reviews

  • Chef is much like comfort food. You know the ingredients involved and you know the end result, but when it makes you feel good then those aspects shouldn’t matter. That’s what I felt after I watched Chef. Favreau’s smaller film after directing the first Iron Man films was a great little comedy with great performances and a huge love for food.

    Good: What really makes this movie work is the cast. Favreau’s grabs the lead role and he comes off as a likable hard ass who just wants to get his passion for cooking back. Add a great supporting cast featuring names like Leguizamo, Downey Jr.,Hoffman, and Johansson that add a lot of good comedy here. I also have to add that the addition of food with the multiple use of sound and visuals to showcase all kinds of food shows off the culinary world in a delicious way. I also appreciated the varied cultural flavor it had from the music and of course the food as it spans throughout multiple states.

    Bad: Like I said, the movie doesn’t make any effort in delivering anything more than a feel good movie and there is nothing wrong with that. However, if you want movies with more depth to them or something a little different, then this isn’t the movie that is going to do it for you.

    Overall, while it isn’t revolutionary, it is still a great little movie about finding your passion and going long with it much like Begin Again only with food.

  • After receiving a bad review and having a breakdown, chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) loses his restaurant. He eventually agrees to start up a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative promise, while piecing back together his estranged family. I’m a big fan of Jon Favreau’s work, even the films he’s been slated for (Iron Man 2 and Cowboys & Aliens) so naturally I was excited for his latest comedy.

    Jon Favreau has been around for a long while, but he put his name on the map directing the first two Iron Man films, but has returned with this indie film, Chef. A very simple film, but very effective at the same time, it’s an easy film to follow and will leave your stomach rumbling. There is food porn at every chance, it’s creative, tastey (by the looks of it) and well created. Favreau has clearly done his homework, it is a well written and beautifully shown. Not only that but Favreau’s cooking skills are brilliantly professional (he clearly had to have been taught how to professionally cook).

    Chef boasts a great cast with some top names making small appearances to make that important impact. With names such as Scarlett Johansson (Avengers Assemble) and Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man Trilogy, Avengers Assemble) both of which…
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  • Everyone loves an underdog. Often stories of struggle of an individual on the screen, going through turbulent moment in their life, makes us revisit moments when our life was in chaos. We want the main character to succeed and rebuild whatever they’ve lost.
    Actor/writer/director/producer Jon Favreau has impressed me long time ago with the versatility of his skills being one man band, so to speak.
    He has proven in the past with movies like “Cowboys & Aliens” and “Iron Man” that he can direct big action flicks with a great box office success. But can he make a character driven comedy or dramedie to be exact? Combo of comedy with a little bit of drama. The answer is definite yes!

    “Chef Carl Casper suddenly quits his job at a prominent Los Angeles restaurant after refusing to compromise his creative integrity for its controlling owner, he is left to figure out what’s next. Finding himself in Miami, he teams up with his ex-wife, his friend and his son to launch a food truck. Taking to the road, Chef Carl goes back to his roots to reignite his passion for the kitchen — and zest for life and love.”

    Judging from the trailer I wasn’t sure about seeing this film. I enjoy food as much as the next guy, but the concept itself did not appeal to me at first glance. However there is something very endearing about this story and matter of fact engaging as well. After tiff with the restaurant owner (Dustin Hoffman) as well as renown food critic (Oliver Platt) who destroys his reputation Chef Carl (Jon Favreau) decides to start from square one by getting a food truck that in a way reignites his passion for food he always wanted to make and transitions into being his own boss. However in this straight forward premise hides actual deeper story of the relationship between father and a son. Women develop relationships by talking, men bond by doing something manually together. Working on a car, building a house, or fixing something together gives a father and a son bigger opportunity to get to know one another and subsequently get emotionally closer. This is an underline message of the movie that translates into enjoyable joyride of a movie. Anyone who visited “Pink’s Hot Dogs” joint on La Brea in L.A knows what an iconic place it is for all the Angelenos. I used to live few blocks away from it and anytime of the day there used to be queues that lasted for hundreds of meters just to have a hot dog and some fries. For the European it could seem really weird that people would wait for some food sometimes for over an hour. To kill time people would talk to one another and in town when you are mostly stuck in your car it was a cool place to actually socialize with people. Similar concept is used in
    “Chef” where Twitter and Facebook are used to spread the word about the quality of food on offer that elevates a Cuban food truck to the level of cuisine celebrity. There is plenty of good music here specially if you enjoy a little salsa now and then, with the latin beat that carries the whole movie nicely.
    The performances are solid and Favreau assembled solid cast leading with Sofía Vergara, John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale as well as cameos by Scarlett Johansson, hilarious Robert Downey Jr, Dustin Hoffman and Oliver Platt. Everything is tied in nicely with a heartwarming story of redemption and second chance that most viewers should enjoy.
    (******** out of 10)
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  • This film is recommended.

    Eat, drink, and be merry! The Foodie Movie continues to whet our moviegoing appetite. Foreign films like Babette’s Feast, Chocolat, La Grande Bouffe, Tampopo, and Like Water, Like Chocolate. American releases like Julie & Julia, Soul Food, and Big Night tantalizes us. Food soothes our intellect in My Dinner with Andre. Even in animated features like Ratatouille, food is king. We play with our food in scenes like When Harry Met Sally or Tom Jones. From sweet to spicy, it becomes a means of romance as in Lady and the Tramp or sexual foreplay in 9½ Weeks or The Cook,The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover. Most recently this year, two films can be added to this long list of foodie movies: The Hundred-Foot Journey (see archives for review) and now, the independent film, Chef.

    Written, directed, and starring Jon Favreau, this small and innocuous little trifle is more comfort food than a five course meal. Chef always plays it safe, following the formulaic recipe for film success and never venturing into real gourmet cuisine or creative filmmaking. This is a film about the love of cooking with more attention paid to the mouth-watering close-ups of various platted wonders than the plot or characters behind the stove.

    The conventional story follows Carl Casper, an unhappy head chef in a California high-end restaurant who leaves his job to find himself and rediscovers his Cuban passion for cooking via a food truck business. Along the way, he establishes a stronger tie with his son, Percy (a natural Emlay Anthony), and his ex-wife, Inez (a far too glamorous miscast Sofia Vergara). No spoilers here, we’ve seen this storyline for the umpteenth time. Although the overnight success angle seems unrealistic as does the relationship between Favreau and Vergara, the film has all the right ingredients with the tenderness on display in the father-son moments. These scenes are the film’s strength and have a genuine honesty in their depiction. While Favreau’s script needs more added zip and tang, his acting and direction are solid.

    With a skilled supporting cast including Oliver Platt, Scarlett Johansson, Bobby Cannavale, and John Leguizamo, Chef is always entertaining. The film is thoroughly pleasant and diverting even if it’s a rather predictable flavor of the month. GRADE: B

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  • “You’re never going to be happy cooking for someone else.”

    If there’s one thing I really hate, it’s those countless cooking television shows (and variations) we get on our plate (how appropriate) recent years. They even founded television channels like “24 Kitchen” and “Njam” where you can view cooking 24 hours a day. How is it possible. You can’t even surf your tv-channels on an average night without bumping into some cooking program where they are preparing a delicious dish again. I’m sick and tired of hearing the terminology like baking, flaming, roasting, steaming, filleting, Bain-Marie, stewing, poaching, ragout, caramelize, gratinate and the hype-word in recent years “cuisson”. I’m not sick of seeing those plates with tasty food, but the oversupply of television programs with people cooking enthusiastically. Suddenly, any known chef de cuisine or unknown cooking amateur has a tv-show where they can demonstrate their skills while brandishing a wooden spoon.

    Why the hell would I watch a movie like “Chef”? Especially when I already know in advance that it’s mainly about cooking. Perhaps out of curiosity? The only cooking-related films I’ve ever seen are “Ratatouille” (where there’s even a rat in charge) and “La Grande Bouffe” (but this film showed the art of cooking in a very different lurid way). Maybe it’s because Jon Favreau played the leading role. Not that I’ve seen him acting that much. He had a small part in “Friends” years ago, he starred in “The Break-up” and he also did something in “Iron Man” and “The Wolf of Wall Street”. He also directed the first successful “Iron Man”. But it’s his charisma that convinced me. He looks like a cheerful and sociable chubby guy who converses in a fairly amusing and slightly lisping manner. Looking at the size of his waist I guess he’s also a fan of culinary excesses and therefore he’s perfect for this role as chef. And then there’s also the pleasure of admiring Sofia Vergara as Inez, the ex-wife of Carl. What a killer babe. I’ll never understand why someone would want to divorce such an adorable,sensual person. I’m sure her butt look more appetizing than that of the pig that Carl cuts into pieces in the beginning of the film.

    Cooking in itself is a central theme in this film, but the main focus is on other matters. Firstly, there is the father-son relationship that has grown crooked after a while. Carl focused fully on his prestigious place in the kitchen, so he ignored and neglected his son Percy (Emjay Anthony). The whole film is about the recovery of that relationship and rediscovering each other in a beautiful, serene, sometimes funny and sometimes sad way. Secondly, it shows how in today’s society it’s seemingly dead simple to ruin someones career simply by writing a destructive review. The consequences of a cyber flame-war could have far-reaching consequences. Especially if the virtual brawl goes viral. And then it shows once again how that virtual world is merged with our daily life The way Percy uses Facebook, Twitter and other online services while driving around America with a food truck, is perhaps a bit exaggerated, but it is an example of the impact of the internet nowadays.

    “Chef” is nothing more than just another film in which the main character is successful in the beginning, has to go through a deep valley with the known setbacks and towards the end he rises again unscathed from the battle as a conquering hero. And in “Chef” everything really turns out all right again. This is not an ordinary feelgood movie, but an extraordinary feelgood movie. But despite that, you can really enjoy other things. The juicy lingo of his two confidants Tony and Martin. The enthusiasm Percy shows during the trip. Yet a little warning though : make sure you have eaten firmly before you watch this film, because I guarantee you’ll be running into the kitchen now and then to get a snack. At times it looks so delicious and appetizing, I spontaneously started to drool. Those browned butter filled Cuban grill sandwiches were so painfully slow prepped, it was almost a torture. A 3D flat screen TV with scents option, would have been ideal at that particular moment.

    A blandly and not too complicated film. In cooking terms one can summarize it as follows: it’s not expensive haute cuisine but simple food that they serve us here. A film with a positive attitude (rare nowadays) with beautiful renditions and a surprising supporting cast. Dustin Hoffman as the old restaurant owner who only trusts a classic,safe menu and doesn’t feel like following the new trends. Scarlett Johansson as a colleague of Carl who supports him on all fronts. Robert Downey Jr. as the eccentric rich man who helps Carl getting started. Jon Favreau who still has the passion to create eatable art even when things get him down. Emjay Anthony is doing everything to get back his father’s attention he’s entitled to and at the same time shows his talents. And the whole film is dressed with a sauce of hugely catchy music. Normally I don’t pay attention to the soundtrack, but in this film it fits like a glove. The Salsa music creates that summer feeling, the blues kicks in when it starts to be corny and “Sexual Healing” is sung a capella. The soundtrack is a perfect ingredient for this tasty movie. Don’t expect profound life lessons in “Chef”. But the end result is still a pleasant and definitely tasty-looking ride. Favreau supplies a genuine end product that tastes very moreish …

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  • Jon Favreau stars and directs in his newest vehicle, Chef. Instead of shooting this thing in the vein of Iron Man or Cowboys & Aliens, Favreau reverts back to the stylings of his 2001 mob comedy Made, to get the job done. He films at a brisk pace with solid, diversified music dictating the rhythms of the scenes/actors. Predicated on the world of culinary craftsmanship, food critics, and restaurant management, Chef only falters in its characters who are either underdeveloped, unlikable, or whose motivations don’t quite make sense. This is a good film but it’s far from perfect. It’s a shame considering the cast which is about as strong as anything I’ve seen so far this year.

    With co-stars from Favreau’s other movies (mainly Iron Man alums Robert Downey, Jr. and Scarlett Johansson) and tight editing by Robert Leighton (he cut last year’s Now You See Me), Chef becomes a detailed character study of one Carl Casper (Jon Favreau in the lead role). Casper has been working at a high-end L.A. restaurant for 10 years. He’s successful, loves his job, but seems bored at the same menu he’s been doing day in and day out. With a food critic coming into town (played by Oliver Platt as Ramsey Michel, an obvious nod to the famous chef Gordon Ramsey), Casper wants to prove himself and grow business even more. He then decides to spice up said menu a little bit by adding new stuff. This results in a clash between him and his boss, a stern, stubborn restaurant owner named Riva (played by the legendary Dustin Hoffman who’s obviously into doing bit parts now). This conflict causes Casper to quit his job, go to Miami, Florida with his son (along with Inez, his ex-wife played by Sophia Vergara), and open his own food truck (one that makes Cuban sandwiches, yum!). Carl can cook what he wants, find his place in the culinary world, and mainly get back on his feet.

    In a nutshell, Chef is storytelling at a much smaller scale than we’re used to seeing from this Queens born director. Thankfully, it works because as an audience member, you stay involved no matter what. Favreau’s Carl is initially unlikable but his heart is in his craft and ultimately he wins you over. You find out that he’s a distant father, an unhappy sulk, and a heart-sleeve wearing dude (not always in a good way). But you pull for him to succeed and that’s all the more reason to believe that Favreau can effectively do double duty as lead actor and director.

    Of note: there were a couple of things that seemed to baffle me after I finished viewing Chef. For instance, I didn’t get why Sofia Vergara’s character and Jon Favreau’s character were divorced in the first place. I’m not saying they were meant for each other, but they seemed overly friendly and way too civil. Besides the whole “growing apart” aspect, I needed a deeper, darker reason to justify the fact that they had been apart for so long. Then there’s the whole aspect of Favreau’s ex-wife’s ex-husband out of nowhere floating the bill for his food truck. Robert Downey, Jr.’s creepy cameo in this role is good but what’s the real motivation for helping Favreau’s Casper out? I guess he feels guilty for sleeping with Inez recently or something. I couldn’t tell. Finally, there is Chef’s neat ending. It’s a happy one but it feels rushed, too calculated, too ironic, and unrealistic. If anything, the closing outtakes involving a real chef (on-set consultant) showing Favreau how to make a grill cheese sandwich, are much more interesting (the film’s strength lies heavily in its authentic take on how food is made).

    When it’s all said and done, Chef is a good film that probably could have been a heck of a lot better. I took in a midday screening knowing that one of my favorite things to do is to eat great food. I’m gonna go ahead and recommend this thing because it seems rationalized and faithful in the way it portrays how things are cooked, the knowledge chefs have, the way they act, and the close up images (of things to eat) that will truly make your mouth water. But I can’t get over the slight unlikability factor in Favreau’s character’s persona. He’s a bit closed off, kinda defensive, always seeking approval from everybody, and a little snippy to his overly patient son. Favreau’s a good actor, gives a decent, researched performance, but his Carl Casper sort of left me with a bad taste in my mouth (get it). He’s a little too unhappy. He’s a tad selfish and he doesn’t always treat people around him very well (Casper seems to have his cronies kissing up to him while following him around a lot). Also, I know that I have to get in touch with today’s modern world of technology, but Chef seems way too involved in the aspect of social networking (you know Twitter, Facebook, 1 second videos, etc…etc..). I mean this flick could probably be the spokesperson for every iPhone, iPad, smartphone, or Twitter handle out there. Utter nonsense! Fruitvale Station and Non-Stop were films that showed texts messages being read on screen. Chef does this too (in the form of Twitter) but it comes off as goofy and to a lesser effect, unnecessary.

    Character flaws and gimmickry aside, I’d say that if you’re one of those Food Network watchers or are in the restaurant industry, Chef might fill a small void. Even though it’s billed as a comedy, I wouldn’t call what’s on screen funny (the humor is too mild to provoke any hearty laughs). Chef is more like a drama about having a passion in something (in this case, cooking) coaxed with a father/son dynamic, coaxed with a sort of a happy-go-lucky road trip feel as well. In essence, Favreau makes a smooth transition from directing action flicks and in doing so, he “cooks” up a small film that’s well, fairly decent.

    Rating: 3 out of 4 stars

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  • Jon Favreau started off his career through the independent film starting with the 1996 film Swingers. Since then Favreau has played the actor-director role since then with his biggest hit being what some considers Marvel’s best stand alone film in Iron Man.Not everything Favreau has touched has been gold as he received criticisms for his last two films: Iron Man 2 and Cowboys & Aliens. The latter came out in 2011 and three years later Favreau is back and is taking the indie route again with Chef. With a casting that consists of John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt, Sofía Vergara, Robert Downey Jr. and more, will Favreau make his return worth while?

    Carl Casper (Jon Favreau), a chef who originated from Miami and was once considered one of the uprising chefs in the game. 10 years after his splash into the cooking world, Casper is the top chef in a Los Angeles. Even with a good job and control of the kitchen, things don’t go in Casper’s favor. Divorced and failing to connect with his son is the least of his worries as a food critic, Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt), delivers a bad review that goes viral. The review results in Casper having a break down, leaving his job, a trip to Miami and a launching a food truck business. Joined with his close friend Martin (John Leguizamo) and his son Percy (Emjay Anthony), the trio set back to LA while selling their Cuban sandwiches on the way.

    Chef takes you on a two hour long sentimental self-realization journey filled with one-liners, social media jokes, and tasty mouth drooling dishes. The film possibly can be a metaphor of Favreau’s career. Came into the industry with much praised but after years of success he takes a few step back due to criticism received then top it off by taking a few notches down and going back to the basics.

    Favreau does an amazing job casting with every single character. Sofía Vergara adds a perfect amount of spice to the film that pushed Casper into Cuban sandwich route. Robert Downey Jr. gives you an hilarious quick cameo while providing a food truck for the chef.

    On May 9th, Chef is set to make its theatrical debut along with seven other films, the possibility of the film being overlooked is high. But with an amazing supporting cast filled with tasty dishes, Chef should be on top of your list to see if you pick any movie to see out of those eight films. This film is perfect to see if you love food or a perfect chance to bond with your child just like Casper did with his son throughout the film. If you decide to not see this film in theaters then I do highly suggest that you add Chef to your DVD collection.

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