WRITTEN BY: Jon Favreau
DIRECTED BY: Jon Favreau
STARRING: Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Sofia Vergara
RATING: 3.5 stars
Chef is a sweet and funny film with an endearing cast. Unfortunately, it is also a little long, lacks a climax and the ending is rather lame. A strong reliance on social media throughout the film also means it could be outdated in several years. One thing is for certain though, food lovers will enjoy the "food porn" with a lot of attention given to good food and passionate rants about food.
Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) is a revered chef who is tired of serving the same dishes every night just because they sell well. When an online critic (Oliver Platt) writes a scathing review, it sparks a Twitter feud between the pair and Carl quits the restaurant. With the help of his ex-wife Inez (Sofia Vergara) and their social media whiz son Percy (Emjay Anthony), Carl decides to start a food truck and cook the food that he loves while taking a road trip with his son.
Favreau is so likeable that when his character has a public outburst, you want to cheer him on and you remain invested as his career takes various turns. He has also written a cute family film that explores the relationship between a father and son trying to find common ground to bond over.
Leguizamo is also impressive as Carl's best friend and sidekick, providing several laughs throughout. Vergara's character seems a little too glamorous, but she plays the motherly role earnestly. Anthony steals many scenes with his adorable performance that never becomes childishly annoying. A small role to Scarlett Johansson as a love interest for Carl seems to only have come about because she is friends with the Iron Man director and she does very little. Likewise, Iron Man himself Robert Downey Jr makes a cameo as Inez's other (and far wealthier) ex-husband, but he is at least hilarious and memorable. The ensemble cast also includes Bobby Cannavale as a fellow cook and Dustin Hoffman as the mean restaurant owner.
There is no doubt that Chef is an idealistic film, but families and food lovers will find value in its sincerity.