Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Chef (Movie Review)

By Freda Cooper 24.06.2014

Image for Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Chef (Movie Review)

Chef (UK Rating: 15)

Jon Favreau's name is literally all over Chef. This is very much Favreau's movie. He's not just the director, but writer, producer and star and he's attacked each one of those roles with relish, as the result is as tasty a morsel of uplifting comedy as is likely to be found in the cinema. The menu's looking good, so Lights! Camera! Action! tucks in its napkin in anticipation before Chef is released nationwide on Friday, 27th June, following special previews on the 25th and 26th.
Image for Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Chef (Movie Review)

Cutting-edge chef Carl Casper (Favreau) has hit the big time at a fashionable Los Angeles eatery. However, when a bad review from a popular blogger leads to a showdown with the restaurant's control freak owner, he finds himself out of a job. Reluctantly, he goes along with an idea from his ex-wife's first husband - a food truck. Not only does it get him back to work but, at the same time, helps him rediscover his passion for food and reconnect with his young son.

Put simply, Chef is a film about great food and…Twitter. It's blended with a storyline about Carl's failings as a husband and father - the food always gets in the way - and his attempts to put that right. Twitter will, no doubt, be delighted as the power of the medium is the major plot device in the film, destroying Carl's career and also building him back up again. It is also the source of much of the generational comedy between him and his ten year old son, Percy (Emjay Anthony), who is as at home with social media as his dad is with food.

Ah, yes! The food… A word of warning:  Going to see Chef on an empty stomach is not a good idea! It looks utterly gorgeous, regardless of whether it's a whole new restaurant menu or a more down-to-earth Cubano, and Favreau's on-screen knife skills are for real, as he went to great lengths to learn how to cook for the film. He portrays Carl as somebody who puts real passion into his food and cooks like he can't help it.

That is, however, the only thing to be wary of with this film. It's big hearted, soft centred yet with a nicely spicy, almost crispy crust, mainly by virtue of the blue-tinged banter in the restaurant's high pressure, sweaty kitchen. Its great Latin American and reggae soundtrack also guarantees a few tapping toes in the cinema, if not a bit of seated dancing. Not feeling good afterwards is almost impossible, and feeling hungry is a calculated risk.

There are laughs aplenty along the way as well, but the highlight has to be Robert Downey Jnr's one-scene cameo as the self-satisfied, unpredictable first husband of Carl's ex. His mind flits from one subject to another in the blink of an eye, which is disconcerting to say the least, and he simply can't resist a bit of one-up-manship, just to remind Carl that he's down on his luck - it is simply dazzling. He's not the only big name in a small but telling part, though, as Scarlett Johansson is the front-of-house manager at the restaurant with a soft spot for Carl, and Dustin Hoffman is the nightmare of an owner.

Image for Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Chef (Movie Review)

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10
Chef is delicious. There's no other word for it. From being mainly associated with Iron Man, Favreau shows he can do even more in what is clearly a personal project. He's got together some great ingredients, including a big name cast, and produced a satisfying, highly enjoyable creation that's soft on the inside with more than a hint of spice. It's colourful, downright irresistible and everything good food should be.

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