Saturday, June 14, 2014

Movie Review: "Chef" (2014)

Director: Jon Favreau
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 55 minutes
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Carl Casper (John Farvreau) is a divorced father who often doesn't find the time he should for his young son Percy (Emjay Athony). Carl is also head chef at a very high-end restaurant, though he feels like he is in a creative rut. When one of the most highly followed online food critics Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt) is set to review his restaurant, Chef Casper wants to give him something new and inspired. Unfortunately for Carl, his boss Riva (Dustin Hoffman) doesn't see it that way, and forces him to stick to the standard restaurant menu. This leads Michel to write a poor review, calling Casper’s food uninspired. This review eventually leads to a flame war on Twitter and an in-restaurant blow up that gets put on YouTube, ultimately costings Casper his job. Out of work and out of prospects, Carl takes the advice of his ex-wife Inez (Sofia Vagara) and purchases a food truck from her ex-husband Marvin (Robert Downey Jr.). This change may help bring new inspiration into Carl's life. Along with a cross-country trip in the food truck with his son and his colleague Martin (John Leguizamo), Carl might just be able to do what he can to reconnect to his passion and to make up for lost time with Percy.

I freaking LOVED this movie. And not just because it made me completely and totally hungry, which it did. It made me fall in love with food all over again.

BigJ and I are not the smallest people on the planet. We appreciate a good meal as much as the next John and Jane Doe. But sometimes, we get stuck in a rut, whether we are eating at home or eating out. It's so hard to find something new when two married people have such varied tastes in food! Sometimes if I want Indian food, I have to consider that BigJ won't really eat anything on the menu...but he has been trying since we met to expand his horizons! Or, if he wants a hamburger for the 10th time this month, he might have to consider that I am tired of burgers and look elsewhere for dinner. This movie made it okay to fall in love with food that doesn't have to be a culinary delight from a 5-star restaurant. It's okay to eat at taco trucks because some of the best food can be found in the weirdest, most random places. It's a food truck revolution!!!

Beyond the ridiculous "filmability" of beignets, slow cooked meats, and street sandwiches, Jon Favreau nails it as main character Carl Casper. It's important to note that Favreau also wrote AND directed this film, so he had his work cut out for him. What we are left with as a result of this hard work is a charming, heartfelt look into the life and times of one chef-turned-food truck owner who maybe isn't as close to his son as he should be, but rectifies this through his love of food. Favreau just shines. He is completely believable as a chef who knows his 'ish and is willing to fight to cook what he wants on his own terms.

There are many cameo roles in this movie, which are a real delight to watch, including Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt, and Robert Downey Jr.. Though Downey Jr. isn't on the big screen that long in this film, he manages to steal the scene where he is featured. Damn, is that guy hilarious or what? We love him! Also, it's so funny to us that these guys who aren't the typical Hollywood-molded leading man say, "screw it, I'm going to write and direct my own movie and cast who I want as my partner and friends!" Well, Favreau did just that: he cast Sofia Vergara as his ex-wife! GO FAVREAU!! The two aren't weird on screen, though, they seem like, even in divorce, they are still pretty good friends, and somehow, they work as a couple. It must also be said that Emjay Anthony, the young actor who plays Percy, was fun to watch as well. It was absolutely touching to watch him show his dad how to use Twitter, and in turn, learn how to cook sandwiches and travel across the country with his ol' dad. I cannot say enough good things about this movie and I hope it gets recognition it deserves.

Oh, and speaking of Twitter, we don't think we've ever seen such blatant advertising for Twitter in, like, ever. It was well-incorporated throughout the movie, but it was just an observation of ours that it was definitely one of the main focuses of the film. The power of social media will never cease to amaze us, and this is how many places, including local food trucks, get the word out about their businesses.

Go into this movie with an empty stomach and afterwards, make it a day and go get yourself some bomb ass cuisine. You won't regret it!

My Rating: 9/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 89%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES1!!

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