UK Release: May 25th 2014
After doing two ‘Iron Man’ films and a film about a bunch of Cowboys and a bunch of Aliens, writer/director/actor Jon Favreau has returned to his roots by making a low budget passion project of ‘CHEF’. Made on a very small budget, and having help from his friends of Scarlett Johansson, Sofia Vergara, John Leguizano, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt and Robert Downey. Jr (all of which were paid bare minimum requested from the Actors Guild of America). Favreau has created a feel good film treat.
I think what works in the film is the central relationship between Favreau’s Carl character and his son Percy (EmJay Anthony). When Carl gets fired from the restaurant he is working at for attacking a food critic (Oliver Platt), he ends up starting a food truck and brings his son on the road to bond. The unique thing about this bond and relationship here is that fact that they were estranged not by Carl being a dick (which is the usual story), but instead more the fact that it comes from his separation from his wife Inez (Sofia Vergara). It’s also refreshing to see Carl’s son not actually being annoying as well. There is also some nice metaphors about food being love, and creativity is key to succeed as well, the most interesting though is Carl’s actual rant to the snotty food critic in the restaurant, scene. In Favreau’s excellently delivered monologue you feel a personality to it all, as if it’s a covert attack to film critics more, and how critics never look into ‘’The time people put into this’’ to make what is presented to them.
Generally speaking though I can see what Favreau has done in shooting food as ‘food porn’ – or even how he shoots it like how ‘’Michael Bay shoots women’’, you get a sense of wanting to eat something coming out of the film, there is also a good sense of music as well (something I thought the beginning of ‘Iron Man’ did very well at as well). Also see if you can get the Gordon Ramsey joke as well. There are some short comings in the film. You never really believe Favreau’s Carl could really woo Scarlett Johansson and Sofia Vergara, I would have liked Dustin Hoffman to have bookended the film more, and the more it goes on, the more repetitive the story becomes. Still though (of allowed to) this works it magic, and fair play to Favreau going out and doing something like this, rather than some big budget epic. This is something which is feel good and will make you leave with a smile on your face.