30 January 2015 | brchthethird
An immensely satisfying treat
As I've been exposing myself to new types of movies and different filmmakers, I sometimes feel like I'm trying new food. CHEF, directed by and starring Jon Favreau, was a delightful little indie "dish" and an immensely satisfying treat. It's about a chef, Carl Casper (Favreau), who works for this French restaurant. One night a critic (Oliver Platt) comes in and later posts a scathing review on Twitter that goes viral. Carl, a little bit new to social media, inadvertently starts a flame war with the critic and challenges him to come back because he'll cook the menu he wanted to cook the first time around. Things don't end up going so well, and Carl leaves his job as chef and takes his ex-wife's (Sofia Vergara) advice about starting a food truck. Narratively, the film is somewhat divided. The first third or so is more of a traditional "food" movie with some relationship drama thrown in, but at a critical point the film shifts gears into a road trip movie. Structure aside, I thought that they did a great job balancing the food aspects (which looked amazing) and the character relationships. The key relationship is between Carl and his son, who comes along with him on his food truck journey. It was really great to see how the relationship changed and improved over the course of the film. Something should also be said for the cast. Although most of them have relatively small roles, Favreau was able to call in some favors and get Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr., Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt, Bobby Cannavale, John Leguizamo and Sofia Vergara to appear here. Even though most of these people only appear in the first half when Carl works at the restaurant (and are therefore dropped once the narrative switches gear), it was still nice to see them. I thought they all gave excellent performances, even for such small roles. The only iffy member of the cast was the boy who plays Carl's son who, at times, seemed like a blank slate. Maybe that was intentional? I don't know, but he also is a child actor so I won't make too big a deal out of it. The only other aspect of the movie I find fault with is the way in which the film ends, which I won't spoil here. All I'll say about it is that it was a little TOO nice and clean. That being said, I thought that CHEF really worked on an emotional level. Overall, it might not be the best film I've ever seen, but it had a feelgood atmosphere, great dialogue and some great cooking. Bon appetit!