Chef (2014) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

Chef (2014) Directed by Jon Favreau. With Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Emjay Anthony, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Sofia Vergara, Oliver Platt and Robert Downey Jr.

chef-movie

If you like great food, Latin jazz and a smile on your face – look no further than writer-director, lead actor Jon Favreau’s Chef, a big hearted little film about a talented Los Angeles cook taking on the world with his passion for all things cuisine. In the past several years, Favreau has made a name for himself as a director of mainstream Hollywood blockbusters – playing a pivotal role in setting up the juggernaut that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe with his 2008 smash hit, Iron Man. With Chef, he dials down the scale but if anything, strengthens the heartbeat with a film that is essentially about love and friendship conquering all. What’s not to like about that!?

Of course, Hollywood is a graveyard of forgettable fare about love and friendship. The idea has automatic mass appeal, but so often, the execution is either too saccharine or flimsy to genuinely register. Not so here. For starters, Favreau assembles a cast that would give the Avengers a run for their money (two of them are here) – which immediately grabs our attention. Furthermore, it is full of confidence and purpose, even though after 30 mins it’s still unclear if the plot is actually going anywhere. Such is chemistry and likeability of everyone involved, that we’re just happy to be in their company.

It is also a testament to Favreau as an actors director. The people he works with clearly love him, and he gets the absolute best out of them all. As a result, the film is piled-high with fine performances, led winningly by Favreau himself. His central character is the sort of guy you wish you knew; full of passion and drive, but without losing the humanity that can often be sacrificed at the alter of success. Through him, the film has spring in its step, the like of which I haven’t seen for a while. It is beautiful in the basic sense that it aims to lift you up and make you feel good.

John Leguizamo is also superb in a supporting role, as is young actor, Emjay Anthony – playing Favreau’s son, Percy. Their scenes together are a joy. The son-father Twitter lesson, the father-son cooking lessons. There is so much goodwill here, you’re waiting for something sad to happen, yet the film fights hard to beat back the melancholy at nearly every stage, flooding each scene with an array of upbeat music ranging from jazz to New Orleans blues.

Chef is a lot of fun. It lives as two films. One, about a man with a rare gift, shackled by the constraints of the business world. Another, a joyous road movie about setting yourself free and rediscovering your life and passion. On paper, that kind of description can sound naff, but Jon Favreau has poured a lot of love into this project and it has all come out pure. Don’t watch it on an empty stomach. 4/5

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About garethrhodes

Full-time lover of all things creative.
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10 Responses to Chef (2014) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

  1. I hadn’t heard of this film until reading your review. I will have to watch this, it sounds like a great film!

  2. It is a cool film. I would say a family film. A joy to watch.

  3. Glad you liked it, it was a good movie made even better by all the food porn lol

    • garethrhodes says:

      Haha! Thank you. You’re absolutely right with your description. The food I ate afterwards was so disappointing by comparison. I’ve been trying to up my game in the kitchen ever since seeing it on Saturday.

  4. I think this movie was absolutely amazing. The food practically comes out of the screen, and this film shows that Favreau has a deep passion for film-making.
    Don’t watch this movie on an empty stomach.

    • garethrhodes says:

      I concur wholeheartedly. Thank you for commenting. Yes, Favreau was always an unlikely candidate to become a blockbuster director. I definitely prefer him at this level. He has a lot of heart and soul. It’s all evident here. The food too, oh, the beautiful food. Pass the Cuban sandwiches…

  5. My only other knowledge of Favreau is from Swingers. Do you have a sense of how he has evolved since writing/ directing that movie to writing/ directing Chef?

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you for such a great reply. Yes, I think you can see the evolution. He still carries that huge confidence into his projects, but yes, there is more natural maturity and I particularly like how he doesn’t go for the jugular in terms of gags. He’s more about creating an overall sense of a good time.

      Of course, he’s learned lot from directing big studio films like Iron Man and Cowboys and Aliens, but I think that has only strengthened his confidence as an actors director. He really knows how to get the best out of his cast.

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