Everyone knows Jon Favreau for his big budget, heavy-on-special-effects, blockbusters. The actor-director went back to his indie roots with scrumptiously entertaining Chef. Favreau takes food and relationships as the focal point of this two hour love letter to food and following what you want to do in life. And everything is very well mixed with a garnishing of the way we live today in the digital world of social media mixing and matching the two generations growing with it.
Usually the starters tell you how the food is going to be or what you can expect ahead. And the starter here is the team of the movie- Food. Right from the beginning you are thrown in the middle of a food porn for a foodgasm. Even a simple screen where the title character cooks a simple grilled cheese sandwich for his 10-year-old son makes a difference to your taste buds and the way camera lingers on the melting cheese and food presentation will tempt you to just go ahead and take a bite off the screen. The pairing of sumptuous shots of food preparation with Latin beats will be hard to resist.
Now we move on to the main element of the film. The story of Chef is about Carl Casper(Jon Favreau), a celebrated chef at a restaurant, whose creativity and integrity is compromised by the restaurant’s owner (Dustin Hoffman). While he wants to experiment and show his creative side, he gets stuck in a very familiar work crisis, being forced to do something because you are paid to do and fighting with what you want to do. While Carl is desperate to shake things up and broaden the menu, particularly with high profile blogger Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt) who is coming to review to restaurant. After a terrible review from the blogger, Carl loses his temper while getting crash course of Twitter by his son Percy (Emjay Anthony) and engages with a tweet war with Ramsey and later on with an outlash which goes viral over the internet. At the urging of his ex-wife Inez (Sofia Vergara),and seeing his life going nowhere, Carl decides to start a food truck that enables him to reconnect with his love of cooking and his son who he has been not giving enough time and attention.Carl’s best friend Martin (John Leguizamo) joins the ride which takes over the town with their Cuban sandwiches. And thus starts a metaphorical journey Carl goes through.
The best part of the dish served by Chef is the relationship between Carl and Percy. The whole cast is likeable and does justice to their characters. As Hoffman tells Favreau early in the movie: play your hits, because no one wants to go to a Rolling Stones concert and not hear ‘Satisfaction’, every character play their part a their best. Special mention for Emjay Anthony acts beyond his age with a perfect blend of innocence and maturity.
The movie moves at its own speed which might make some restless. Scarlett Johansson’s sudden disappearance in the second half is a disappointment. You can’t take one the best looking dish out of the table. It might not be useful but still it adds to the meal right? The soundtrack is very enjoyable and varied, and the directing is great making you want to visit some of the cities the main characters go through.
To wrap up a good meal you need a happy ending. Among everything, Favreau weaved the social media generation quite smartly for today’s generation to relate with it. Right from the son giving knowledge about Vine, Twitter, Facebook to his father, and how it is second nature to this generation. And through the use of social media, Carl gets redemption. A perfect recipe to end the meal.
Overall Chef is like a light, feel good comfort food which is as good as a scrumptious cuisine. A tighter editing would have made things better but when you can need to wait for delicious food. Its an gastronomical trip of the senses as well as relationships which get mixed and battered.
PS: Don’t go for it empty stomach. Or order food before hand
Rating-3 Out of 5