run time: 114 mins
director: Jon Favreau
starring: Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Emjay Anthony, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Sofia Vergara, Oliver Platt, Robert Downey Jr., Amy Sedaris, Russell Peters, Chase Grimm, Will Schutze, Gloria Sandoval, Jose C. Hernandez
movie summary: Chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) is one of Los Angeles’ finest chefs. He works in a fancy 5-star restaurant run by Riva (Dustin Hoffman), when one of the world’s most renowned food critics Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt) comes in to review the menu. Carl serves up his usual dishes which turns out to be a disaster, so he joins Twitter to call Ramsey out for bashing his food and cooking. Riva loses his mind and fires Carl leaving him to ponder his future as a chef and a father.
Carl has spent the last ten years working in Miami and Los Angeles as a chef. He was once praised by Ramsey himself as a future great chef, but when he moves to LA and starts working for Riva he begins to lose his food creativity. Riva doesn’t allow him to create his menu but lays out the food he expects his customers to want. This has never been a problem until Ramsey’s horrible review, the pair decide to go their separate ways which leaves Carl with nothing.
After spending the afternoons looking for a new job and cooking up really delicious food at his house, Carl tries to spend time with his son Percy (Emjay Anthony). He has been separated from Percy’s mom Inez (Sofia Vergara) for a while now and hasn’t really been there for his son. In an attempt to bond with Percy, Carl gets his son to create a Twitter account and the pair begin to repair his crazy online reputation. Inez offers to help Carl get back on his feet by coming to Miami to buy a food truck from her ex-husband Marvin (Robert Downey Jr.). He is very hesitate at first for taking a hand out from Marvin but Inez is persistent because she thinks this would be a great opportunity for him to rediscover his passion and bond with Percy.
Carl meets with Marvin who gives him an old beat up food truck to fix up. Martin (John Leguizamo), Carl’s best friend and right hand man in the kitchen, shows up in Miami after quitting Riva’s restaurant. He wants to be a part of this great food truck opportunity while cooking and serving Cuban food. The three guys get together to clean out the truck, buy new equipment, and serve up their first meals. The decision is made that Carl and Martin are going to take a road trip across the southern part of the US to bring the truck back to Los Angeles. Percy begs to go because he has been learning how to cook and recording the truck’s progress on Twitter. The lines grow longer in every new city leaving Carl and Martin speechless, little do they realize that Percy has been bragging about the food truck every day online.
The truck begins to rake in the money as the trio make it back to Los Angeles, it is the end of summer now and Percy has to go back to school. He is sad to be leaving the truck knowing his dad will be too busy to hang out with him anymore. Carl realizes this summer was the best time of his life, that he has rediscovered his passion for food, and just when he thinks everything is going good he has another run in with Ramsey. There’s still a lot of bad blood between the two but this face to face encounter may be just what both needs to bury the hatchet and move past their previous encounter.
my thoughts: Chef opened in early May across the United States and didn’t come to Canada. I was extremely disappointed because this movie looked fantastic with an all-star cast! Lucky for me it opened here last Friday night and I was there.
I don’t think there are a lot of people out there who realize that Jon Favreau was the director of Marvel’s first real blockbusters Iron Man and Iron Man 2. He has been in films since the early 1990’s and has fine tuned his craft to become a very successful writer and director at the same time. His streak of creating entertaining movies continues with Chef, he takes a simple story of a dad down on his luck who needs to be a better father and turns into a movie that will leave people drooling over the food preparation scenes. I don’t know if those cooking scenes were actually Favreau or a stunt double but if that was him then I give him so much credit for being able to cook some great dishes. I can openly admit I can’t cook anything so to watch a guy who usually stumbles through their his on-screen characters, slice and dice with precision was fun experience. Many people in the audience will laugh out loud when Carl loses his mind on Ramsey and proceeds to ruin his reputation online, but will grow to appreciate his passion for food and determination to make something of himself.
John Leguizamo is in the movie as a walking Adidas billboard, while using his native tongue and knowledge of hot/spicy food to lure in new customers. Emjay Anthony is the awesome and funny son who is extremely smart for his age and tries his best to spend time with is dad and grow the business to make his dad happy. Scarlett Johansson has a small part as an on and off girlfriend of Carl who tries to get him to realize that he is a great guy who just needs to catch a break. Dustin Hoffman has an even smaller role at the beginning of the movie as the restaurant owner, who plays by his own rules and no one elses. Sofia Vergara plays the snotty superficial ex-wife of both Carl and Marvin. Honestly have no clue why she’s in the movie besides just to be a pretty face and use her accent for the Miami scenes. I love Oliver Platt’s role as the tough food critic who is extremely hard to please, he just excels in roles where he is perceived as the bad guy. Finally, for those of you who are expecting to see lots of Robert Downey Jr. in the this movie be prepared for a let down, he’s in the film for about five minutes. His one and only part is worth the watch though because it is hilarious!
Chef will please anyone who loves movies about cooking and father-son narratives, but the only thing that bugged me about the film was how long it is. At 114 minutes, they could have trimmed some of the food truck story and came to the ending much quicker. I really enjoyed Chef just felt it was repeating itself in every new city it rolled into it. I’m still going to recommend the movie to everyone because it is a funny take on the food truck industry and family.
my star rating: 7 out 10
imdb.com: 7.9 out 10
rottentomatoes.com: 89% out 100%
rogerebert.com: 3 out 4