CHEF, a tasty feast of human-sized entertainment, with no city-demolishing special effects, no slo-motion gunfire and nothing you’d feel guilty about watching while sitting next to another person–and it showed up in 2014!
Written, directed by and starring the steadily impressive Jon Favreau, in an obvious labor of love and as a neat departure from his big scale projects. He also co-produced with–if not a record-,then close enough—a fork-dropping twenty-seven associate producers. All those extra hands on the kettle mercifully didn’t upset Favreau or his sweet-natured (sans saccharine), simple story of a career chef who loses his long-time ‘respectable’ restaurant position, then gets back into the game with a no-frills food-cart business. Friends and family pitch in, and things feel pretty good all around.
Bouncing from L.A to Miami, New Orleans, Austin and back, its a quick 114 minutes: fun, great to look at (best ‘food’ flick since the classic Big Night) and has a kind heart. Choice support from Sofia Vergera, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey, Emjay Anthony, Bobby Canavale, John Leguizamo, Dustin Hoffmann and Oliver Platt. Favreau’s great patter dialogue, aced by the cast, makes simple, mundane things like how to select ingredients come off fresh and fun. The harmony of the players is evident and charming, not a false step is taken. He also gets in a reasoned dig at current computer culture and the pitfalls of texting: how many of us have too-quickly pressed ‘send’ and regretted it later?
Well received critically and commercially, its the sort of unpretentious ‘little’ movie that gets you thinking there might be hope after all. Plus, it fairly demands you reconsider the lowly toasted cheese sandwich. Great soundtrack.