Chef (2014) review
When a meal comes together just right, it doesn’t matter how big or how expensive it is; it just feels right. Jon Favreau seems to have figured this out with Chef. Heading to a smaller budget style, Favreau has written and directed something about food, music, family, careers and the dangers (and the rewards) of social media that is all from the heart. And it feels just right up on the big screen.
Last week, Favreau reminded me why I like going to the theatre: new worlds, new spins on old stories, heart, and good fun. Chef is full of all of this with a cast the could that could easily command some huge paychecks if they wanted to. Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr., Dustin Hoffman, Sofia Vergara, and John Leguizamo all join in on the fun and they all shine. Even newcomer Emjay Anthony, who plays Favreau’s son, had a wonderful and emotive performance that makes you believe in the relationship. Everyone seems like they were having a blast. And when the cast, the director and the audience is having fun, you know you’ve done something right, even if it’s just creating smiles on and off screen.
And the film is so positive! Despite a storyline about going off the career deep end due to not being able to shut your digital mouth and having to start all over again, the film is amazingly positive. There’s a moment shared between Favreau’s character and his ex-Sous Chef at a bar after he gets fired as Head Chef that could have easily been written angrier or rougher, but instead Favreau showed a positive way to deal with the situation, friends/co-workers, and work related situations like it. And the movie moves on in a positive way because of it. Loved it! Not only is it showing the character’s growth (one of many such scenes in the film), but it shows that you don’t need grit and anger in a film to be entertaining.
The film is thoroughly entertaining too. From its mouth watering food prep scenes (don’t see this film on an empty stomach) to it’s rhythmic music scenes, Favreau takes advantage of the food truck travel part of the film to make Chef just a joy to watch. I can’t say enough about it. The music choices were inspired, and the multiple live acts not only play great music, but give a soul to multiple scenes with little to no dialogue. The use of cover versions of classic songs particularly awesome as, just like the story, they give you a sense of familiarity with a nice blast of new flavour. Great job by Favreau and his team here.
I can’t say enough good things about this film. I was looking forward to seeing it, and now I can’t wait to see it again. Easily one of my favourite films of the year if not my favourite. I highly recommend going to catch it in the theatre. It’s an honest, heartfelt, positive film about career reinvention, family, and connection that you and your friends will love. Especially if you love food (who doesn’t?), music (again, who doesn’t?), and social media (ok, that one isn’t for everybody). The film gets everything just right.
Edited by James Leask
and special thanks to the fine folks a Gastropost Edmonton for the advanced tickets