Not just a movie for the foodies out there… Jon Favreau’s latest is for anyone looking for a couple of hours of upbeat, life-affirming storytelling.
Carl Casper (Favreau) was once one of the hottest chefs in LA. A decade later, the restaurant where he works is still always full, but creatively Carl is running on empty. When he learns that popular food blogger Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt) is coming to review the restaurant, Carl plans to dazzle him with an adventurous new menu. But the restaurant’s owner, Riva (Dustin Hoffman), insists he serve the same safe and predictable dishes that have kept the place packed year in and year out… End result..? Carl is jobless. With a once promising career in tatters.
Could the secret to his success lie in getting back to basics and appreciating the simple things in life..? In Hollywood…? What do you think?!
This is a cracking, contemporary tale. Favreau has a patchy track record, but this plays to his strengths, both as a director and as an actor. There’s real passion here. Passion for food (obviously). But also passion for telling a simple story well. And with a good team around you. Wisely opting to make Carl a not entirely likeable, lessons-to-learn dad, Favreau gives his lead credible strengths and weaknesses, and gives himself good people to work with, including Hoffman, Scarlett Johansson, Sofia Vergara, Robert Downey Jr, and John Leguizamo. Enjoyable overall, it’s the small touches that elevate Chef. Like Johansson being seduced by Carl’s cooking. Or the level of devotion given to a cheese toasty. As with any memorable meal, it’s all about the ingredients. And the dedication. And paying attention to the finer points. OK, so it all wraps up too neatly, with an ending that’s as unbelievable as the queues for Carl’s sandwiches. But let’s not quibble. Because, sometimes, nice guys do finish first. And this is, at heart, a feel-good feature. A movie which takes such delight in the joy of food that you might want to catch an early screening just so you can head to your favourite eatery straight after!
Starring: Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara, Dustin Hoffman
Director: Jon Favreau