Director: Jon Favreau Writer: Jon Favreau Starring: Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Sofia Vergara, Oliver Platt Runtime: 115 min Rating: R
Father’s day season is upon us, and with that, a plethora of films that explore relationships between fathers and sons. Chef gives the concept its own spin by introducing a light hearted story with contagious happiness and an all star class that is sure to please audiences of all ages (despite its surprising R rating).
Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) is a talented chef that is stuck in an artistic rut. After a disaster with celebrated food critic Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt), Casper leaves his job in the hopes of finding the joy for cooking he once had. After ex-wife Inez (Sofia Vergara) asks him to take care of his son on a trip to Miami, Casper suddenly finds himself owning a food truck, which he soon finds to be the way to rediscover his passion for food, and to get to know his son, who had become more and more distant with him as time went by.
The all-star cast the film brags about is sadly underused. Scarlett Johansen, Robert Downey Jr, and Dustin Hoffman all appear briefly, and none of their characters are given enough of a background or identity in order to really make their relevance stand out. Sofia Vergara is stunning as Inez, and although her character is not terribly enticing, it is quite refreshing to see her outside of her hugely famous role in modern family. Jon Favreau plays a passionate Casper, and despite his acting being underwhelming, the love for his role and film as a whole is quite evident throughout the movie. It has to be noted that fans of the Iron Man saga might find Robert Downey Jr’s character in the film to be refreshing, since it is fun watching Favreau and Downey Jr interact outside of the famous franchise.
Chef is not somewhat confused in what it wants to be. It is not entirely a film about food, but it is not entirely a film about parental relations either. Although both aspects are given significant screen time, they are somewhat awkward when they finally cross paths. This is not to say that either aspect should be removed in order for the other to take front and centre, but the way the father-son relationship is introduced in the film just seems a little mechanical, and it makes Sofia Vergara’s character seem like a plot device. However, it is obvious that the paternal aspect of the film is an element that would appeal greatly to parents in order to make the whole movie more relatable and enjoyable for that type of audience.
Not only does Jon Favreau star in the film, he also directed and produced it. Although it definitely comes across as a type of passion project, the film is still thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable. Set to terribly contagious Latin music, the characters are charming enough, and the plot is easy enough to follow in order for the film to be a completely feel good experience. Although the whole father-son aspect of the film might be uninteresting for some viewers, the incredibly delicious shots of food shown in the film make the project completely worth it.