Chef

  • ChefChef is quality character-centric entertainment.
  • Writer/director/star Jon Favreau is an underrated filmmaker. In Chef, he shows artistic prowess when filming food, either its preparation or consumption.
  • His comedic timing is equally impeccable; consider Chef Carl Caspar’s (Favreau) explosion at Ramsey Michael (Oliver Platt) or Martin (John Lequizamo) finding non-culinary use for cornmeal.
  • Another success for Favreau: emotional acuity. Carl and his son’s (Emjay Anthony, a talent to watch) relationship is, at times, uplifting and heartbreaking.
  • Therein is why Chef’s unsurprising plot never limits its effectiveness. Carl and Percy are developed with enough complexity that the plot-line barely matters.
  • An actual flaw: the screenplay’s treatment of important female characters. Neither Molly (Scarlett Johansson) nor Inez (Sofia Vergara) have much personality independent of Carl, which means we puzzle at their attraction to the chef.
  • Especially Inez’s. Given that she clearly still likes (maybe even loves) her ex-husband, and that he seems to feel the same for her, why did they divorce in the first place?
  • In that regard, Chef demonstrates the dangers of too-little exposition.
  • While significant, such flaws are overshadowed by Chef’s merits.
  • The actors, especially Favreau, Platt, Vergara, Anthony and Lequizamo, are outstanding.
  • Cameos are adeptly played for humor.
  • Carl’s fall and eventual redemption are equally emotional.
  • The soundtrack is great.
  • And so forth. I recommend this film without reservation. (Sidebar to Favreau: thank you, sir, for trying so hard, sincerely.)
  • Grade: B

20 thoughts on “Chef

  1. I have not heard of this film previously. Sounds fun though. Favreau has always been funny on screen whenever I’ve seen him. Swingers is especially glorious.

  2. I think Molly had character to a certain degree. She seemed like a real down to earth chick as opposed to being over the top new girlfriend/sex buddy. However…what I find stupid is how she randomly disappeared and never came back.

    I loved the rest of the movie and almost shed a tear during the father/son stuff. I don’t even know why….

    • Because the father/son stuff is so adeptly handled? ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s borderline brilliant.

      Agreed that Molly is better developed than Inez. She still wasn’t a strong character though.

      • Oh no! She wasn’t the strongest! Mostly because we don’t even know what happened to her afterwards!

        Oh yeah…I’d go as far as saying brilliant! It made me care a ton!

  3. Good review! Finally someone reviewed this! I have been wanting to see this since it came out and just haven’t had the chance. I agree with you Jon F. is underrated and glad to hear that you liked this, gives me hope. I was starting to think maybe no one liked it because I haven’t heard much about it. I usually agree with you so I am interested.

    • There is definitely a lot to like here, so I’m optimistic you’ll enjoy.

      It’s an indie, so I think few people have seen it. Especially given it’s release date; a lot of people will choose to see Fault in Our Stars, X Men, etc instead. Most of the reviews I have encountered for Chef are generally positive.

  4. I want to go back and watch this. I really do. I loved loved Chef. Personally, I might have bumped it to a B+ here but I’m not running the show. ๐Ÿ˜›

    However, you’ve also made me reconsider the strength of the relationships between Carl and Inez. Or at least how they were written. They did seem awfully pleasant and conversational around one another for going through divorce, right? And I wasn’t so much disappointed by Johannson’s character as I thought her involvement was maybe a touch unnecessary. Still, it’s clear Favreu made a great move to recast several of his Iron Man buddies. Robert Downey Jr. made my skin crawl here. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Downey Jr did the same for me. Which, of course, was the intent.

      And I have known divorced couples that are still very good friends and weren’t good spouses, so I think the Carl/Inez relationship could have been reasonable enough on its own terms. I just don’t think it was explored enough for me to truly understand it.

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