Amusing and occasionally charming Jon Favreau project with some big name supporting roles
Sandwiched right in the heart of this amiable comedy-drama by Jon Favreau is a big, fat career metaphor. The writer-director-actor plays Carl Casper, a divorced chef who works for a plush Los Angeles restaurant – until a food blogger (Oliver Platt) eviscerates his menu. Following a bust-up with the owner (Dustin Hoffman), Carl decides to find himself by opening up a food truck.
Favreau is, of course, the director of Iron Man, Iron Man 2 and Cowboys & Aliens, who – presumably – got tired of serving up such bloated Hollywood dishes that he decided to go and make the filmic version of a food truck. Still, if you ignore this slab of self-indulgence, Chef is an amusing and occasionally charming work that’ll tickle the taste-buds, as well as the funny bone.
Yes, be advised to eat beforehand; the dishes prepared here will have you drooling into your popcorn, in the way all good food films should. But that’s really the garnish; the filling is a father-son story, as Carl looks to mend his patchy relationship with his young offspring at the urging of his ridiculously understanding/sympathetic ex-wife, Inez (Sofia Vergara).
Pulling in some favours from his Iron Man stars Scarlett Johansson (who plays his restaurant’s sassy waitress) and Robert Downey Jr (as his ex-wife’s former lover), Favreau also gets some good work from John Leguizamo and Bobby Cannavale as Carl’s co-workers. Favreau, who apparently couldn’t cook before the shoot, also offers one of his most affecting performances since Swingers, the film that launched him.
It’s not all perfectly seasoned, however. There is a tedious long-running joke about Twitter – Carl seems to be the only person in his circle unaware of how to tweet – that doesn’t really work. And Favreau is sometimes too heavy on the schmaltz. But, largely, Chef will leave you hungry for more.
General release from Fri 27 Jun.