Jon Favreau made some blockbuster movies with Iron Man and Iron Man 2. Elf was a funny movie from his hand. He also acted in several flicks, but to be honest nothing of his work really stood out. Chef is another addition to that average group, but one of the better ones.
Carl Casper (Favreau) is a top chef, but his employer does not allow him to stretch beyond the boundaries of their fixed menu. If it works, why change a winning formula? Food critic Ramsey Michel was a fan of the first hour, but is now disappointed that the passion in the food is gone. Casper gets a very bad review and when social media are used, things blow up in his face. He finds himself without a job.
His ex-wife Inez (Sofía Vergara) challenges him to go back to making simple food and sell it off a food truck. After reluctantly agreeing, Casper, his son Percy and his sous-chef Martin embarks on a road trip from Miami to LA. On the road, Casper and Percy reconnect and learn that they both enjoy food. But most of all, the road trip is about Casper rediscovering his passion for cooking and making other happy with good food. Percy, a child of his time, knows how to get the social media attention and everyone seems to want to try the food of the chef who completely lost in on YouTube (the aftermath of the bad review is really embarrassing).
Chef is a feel-good movie. There are no moments that make you feel bad. First, the food is beautiful – literally in this case: it looks amazing. You will get hungry while watching Chef. It is enchanting to see how much the characters love food. Next to that, the moments with his son are heart-warming, as is the interaction with his sous-chef and best friend. It is great to see people connect on shared passions.
The feel-good mood is a bit over the top though. There is no variety; all ends well. All ends well. And it’s a bit too much. My biggest concern however is that there is no climax, no proper build-up. The road-trip ends and they cook some more, but that’s it. There are no set-backs during the road trip, no unexpected surprises. Everything just happens. The plot in that sense is quite boring and completely unchallenging.
As I said, however, that should not keep you from enjoying the food and the mood, and having a good laugh. Just don’t expect much more than that.
Chef – Jon Favreau (Aldamisa Entertainment, 2014)