(WARNING: This film will cause serious hunger, excessive salivation and the urgent desire to eat a Grilled Cheese. Please consult your local supermarket before seeing this movie.)
‘Chef’, directed and starring Jon Favreau, is the story of a down-on-his-luck chef who has to battle his “haters”. The story follows Chef Casper’s ups and downs with oodles of the film’s true star: the food. Chef is a classic rebuilding story with a very enjoyable feel. However, the story is at times put on the back-burner to the food. ‘Chef’ takes us on flavorful journey through some of America’s most appeasing local dishes. The film plates up a smorgasbord of culinary creations during the film’s 114 minute run time, ranging from the American Grilled Cheese, to the film’s most enticing portion, the Cuban Pork Cubanos.
This food is made even more striking through the films use of its colour. The film contrasts crisp, clean whites of the crockery with vivid colors of Chef Casper’s creations. Dark meats are complimented by a rainbow of vegetation by its side. These shots bring a quality feel into what otherwise is simply a nice film.
The other key aspect that develops ‘Chef’ is the father-son relationship. Divorced from the mother of his son Percy (Sofia Vergara), Favreau has trouble keeping connected with his family. Taking his son out on alternate weekends isn’t enough, until his work situation changes their relationship. The relationship between the two starts as nothing new and the strain shown is tried and tested. It is only in the final third of the film that the bond hits emotional notes.
Favreau plays off the emotion well and is very convincing in his role. Favreau frustrates, annoys and delights the viewers as much as he does his supporting cast. This being said he is outdone by his son and best friend. Percy, played by the 11-year-old Emjay Anthony, plays a child genius who at times is made too special. Despite this he bring smiles throughout. These smiles are quadrupled by Chef Casper’s right-hand-man Martin, played by the excellent John Leguizamo. Leguizamo’s character and portrayal is a shining light throughout. Happy, charming and all round good guy, Leguizamo supports Favreau at every turn and should be credited with a fair slice of the film’s overall success.
Other secondary characters don’t have the same success, seeming either rushed or unresolved in their stories. Scarlett Johansson’s placement in the film, in which she performs her best Zooey Deschanel impression, seems odd and somewhat out of place, whilst Sofia Vergara’s character development is both sudden and predictable. Bobby Cannavale, of recent Blue Jasmine fame, plays alongside Dustin Hoffman in early scenes, but both disappointingly soon disappear from the story-line. Worst of all is Robert Downey Jnr. who puts in a lackluster, though undeniably charismatic cameo.
‘Chef’ cooks up a fun summer flick, full of tasty treats, but may not be the comedy you expected. ★ ★ 1/2