VOD film review: Chef
Chris Bryant | On 11, Nov 2014
Director: Jon Favreau
Cast: Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Sofia Vergara
A talented man quits his big-shot job because of a lack of creativity and restarts independently fuelled with soul and passion in Chef. It tells the tale of Carl Casper, a cook who takes to the road with a loyal friend and a willing son. Abandoning the world of artistically restrictive, formula-driven success to travel the country in a food-truck of his own design, Carl Casper rediscovers his love of food.
Now replace food with films and menus with iron superheroes and Favreau’s motives to create Chef become a little clearer. But put aside the barely veiled comparisons: Chef is a solid inspiration for anyone who used to love their job, whatever it might be. It’s witty, it’s warm and it’s brilliantly colourful.
Chef co-stars John Leguizamo as Favreau’s loyal sous-chef, who brews a brand of camaraderie that you want to believe comes from an organic place. Tossing in just enough struggle to prevent it being rose-tinted, Favreau’s depiction of the family drama throws collaborators Scarlett Jonhansson and Robert Downey Jr. into smaller roles, while the forefront is dominated by lesser known but instantly likable characters.
Instantly rewatchable, the film’s winning cast are to thank for its welcoming tone. Favreau as the smart-talking, passion-driven man of the title is balanced perfectly with Leguizamo’s unimpeachable attitude. Emjay Anthony as Casper’s son provides some of the most touching moments, as well as a few moments of humour. Between them, they create an air of careless companionship that drives the emotional heart of the film past the few, tricky sad moments.
Awash with creative cursing and delicious dishes, Chef also holds a pretty impressive place as one of the few productions (big screen or small) to have successful navigated the translation of mobile phones to the screen. It casually encompasses and utilises the power of Twitter, at first to drive the story and then as a celebration of the 140-character giant’s ability to empower the little guy. Wielded primarily by Casper’s son, the technology is noticeable without jarring. It’s played smart and, set against a bright, friendly backdrop of drama, it blends in extremely well.
Chef may be the delicious parable of Favreau’s experience with Hollywood blockbusters. It may be an overly-happy love letter to food or a convenient tale of the underdog winning. But that doesn’t matter. Favreau, Leguizamo and Anthony ensure that this is an incomparably fun anecdote of a crazy summer, in which they all gave up everything to travel around making soul-fuelled Cuban sandwiches together. They met some new people, made some friends, learned a little, and had a great time. Watching it, you’ll feel the same: amused, proud and hungry.