02nd Nov2014

‘Chef’ Blu-ray Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Sofía Vergara, Robert Downey Jr. | Written and Directed by Jon Favreau


Until the likes of Iron Man, Jon Favreau was not a director on my radar, I had heard about his indie film Swingers (who hadn’t, it was all over TV and movie mags at the time) which he wrote and starred in, but I didn’t realise he directed Elf and Zathura till looking up his oeuvre on IMDB when the first Marvel movie came out. Since Iron Man Favreau has worked consistently in the sci-fi/superhero genre, directing Iron Man 2 and Cowboys & Aliens, as well as the pilot for NBC’s SF drama Revolution. Which means I’ve seen every film he’s directed since 2008.

But Chef is not a genre picture. It’s a return to the type of drama Favreau was writing, directing and starring in way before he hit the big time with Marvel. And here again he writes, directs, co-produces and stars…

Chef tells the story of top chef Carl Casper who – refusing to compromise his creative integrity – engages in a Twitter war with critic Ramsey Michel (Platt) which eventually sees him quit his job in a glitzy LA restaurant. With no job, no prospects (thanks to videos of his argument with Michel going viral) and no money, Carl takes up his ex-wife’s offer of a food truck from her OTHER ex-husband (played by shellhead himself, Robert Downey Jr.)! Taking to the road in a fast food truck and going back to his cooking roots, it reignites Carl’s passion for the kitchen, whilst at the same time reconnecting him with his son, and his family; finding a new zest for love and life.

It’s not often that you come across a movie that has you run the gamut of emotions, however Chef is one such movie. It has a heartfelt story that tugs on your heart strings, is packed with laughs big and small and in the end you can ‘t help but feel emotionally uplifted by it’s “life works out in the end” story – even if that story is something of a wish fulfillment tale that works out for Favreau’s chef a little too easy… But hey, if you wanted real life why watch a movie?

Although this is not just a Hollywood feel-good puff piece. Chef is very timely in the way it approaches social media, the power it has to help or hinder, and its impact on peoples lives. Twitter is not just some side joke or off-the-cuff remark, it is integral to the very fabric of Favreau’s film and unlike many other films that try to include Twitter et al. in their stories, its use never feels forced. Maybe that’s because Favreau, as a director and actor, has first hand experience of the power of social media? After all, it’s now, more than ever, easier to talk directly to celebrities online and talk smack about them or slag off their latest film – and I’m guessing as someone with such as high profile as he does can come in for a lot of stick from disgruntled fanboys.

Interestingly, even though it deals with a “celebrity” chef, this feels like a much more personal film for Favreau. Perhaps taking a step back from the big-budget, high-concept blockbusters he had been making, allowed him time to really flesh out the story he wanted to tell. It certainly feels that way – the script is tight, the pacing spot on and there’s nary a wasted second within the films almost 2 hour runtime. Although thankfully this is one of those movies where two hours never seems that long, I was engrossed from start to finish, really rooting for Carl Casper and co.

My only qualm? It’s all a little bit too “food-porny” and Favreau relies a little too much on montages to tell his tale…

Chef is released on DVD and Blu-ray on November 3rd, courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment.


Comments are closed.