Review: ‘Chef,’ A Tasty Fantasy

Jon Favreau's 'Chef' (Open Road Films)
Jon Favreau’s ‘Chef’ (Open Road Films)
A fantasy about food, family, and social media, Chef is a pleasant confection served up in an appetizing manner. The service is a bit slow, but the food is tasty when it arrives.

Writer, director, and star Jon Favreau, who lately has found gainful employment making impersonal, big-budget extravaganzas, returns to his indie roots to tell the story of Carl Casper, a chef who has lost his way. Once he turned heads with his culinary abilities, but he has fallen into a rut serving the same, albeit popular, menu at a high-priced Los Angeles restaurant owned by Riva (Dustin Hoffman), who doesn’t want Carl to change a thing. Meanwhile, Carl has become distant with his son Percy (Emjay Anthony), who is steadily losing hope that he still plays an important role in his father’s life.

Things come to a head when “the most important restaurant critic in Los Angeles” (Oliver Platt) gives the restaurant a bad review, singling out Carl for some bitingly personal comments, and prompting him to start a flame war via social media. Carl ends up out of a job and, eventually, in Miami watching Percy while his ex-wife Inez (Sofia Vergara) conducts some business. She’s been urging him to get a food truck and cook the kind of food he wants to cook, and finally he capitulates after Inez’s ex-husband Marvin (Robert Downey Jr.) gives him one.

Naturally enough, Carl is so talented that his food truck becomes an instant sensation. Naturally enough, Percy is such a social media whiz that the food truck becomes an instant sensation wherever it stops on a road trip from Miami to Los Angeles. Naturally enough, plenty of delicious-looking food is served, everyone loves it, and family bonds are strengthened.

If this all sounds pro-forma, a string of episodes allowing Favreau to expound upon his philosophy of life, love of food, and discomfort with criticism, well, it is. Yet Favreau is a convivial host, and he’s called upon his friends — those already noted, as well as John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Bobby Cannavale, and more — to fill out the cast with sincere and palpable camaraderie. Life lessons are gently imparted with a light touch; the episodes are peppered with humor and seasoned with a spirit of generosity

Chef may be a familiar dish, but it’s cooked with honesty, integrity, and good ingredients. That makes it a welcome addition to any film lover’s menu.

The film opens today at the Angelika Film Center in Dallas, AMC NorthPark 15, and Cinemark West Plano and XD.

Comments are closed.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: