Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Chef

Starring: Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, Bobby Cannavale
Director: Jon Favreau

Running Time: 1 hour, 55 minutes
Rating: R


I haven't been this excited to review a film in quite a while. Interviews on NPR and articles in nearly every food magazine totally whetted my appetite for "Chef." Jon Favreau's writing, direction and acting humors us and tugs at our heartstrings. This film is food porn. All foodies need to see this. I'm hungry for more.

This heartwarming story begins in the kitchen of a famous LA restaurant. Favreau shines as Carl Casper, a Bryan Voltaggio-Bobby Flay type, who feels heat from - not the saute station - but his boss. Dustin Hoffman graces us with his presence in a few scenes as the restaurant owner, who doesn't support Carl's creative streak when the most important food blogger in LA comes for a meal. The menu bores the blogger, a gut-wrenching post is published and Carl loses his shiz. (It was fun to hear the gossip about food bloggers - I can only imagine the whispers that surround me when I walk in a new place. JUST KIDDING.)

John "Toulouse Lautrec" Leguizamo and Bobby "Funky Spunk" Cannavale give a very insightful look into the testosterone-driven kitchen, and are hilarious as Carl's sous chefs Martin and Tony, respectively. They give Carl inspiration to walk out of the corporate kitchen and follow his passion. That passion is realized with the help of his son Percy (Emjay Anthony) and ex-wife Inez. In this role, Sofia Vergara isn't unlike Gloria on "Modern Family," but she's so freaking gorgeous, and I appreciated her minute character tweaks.

Carl, Percy and Martin open up El Jefe, a Cubano food truck, and they cruise through the South. The whole time, Percy is Tweeting, Instagramming, Vining and Facebooking, so everywhere they go, the crowds are waiting for them. Kids schooling parents in technology will be the trend for a long time. The bond Carl and Percy develop is truly touching.

The soundtrack is fantastic. The one-liners are even better. Food is in every scene. Someone is either eating or cooking - most memorably the DELUXE grilled cheese Carl makes for Percy, the garlicky pasta he preps for Maitre'D ScarJo, and the montage of the 5 courses he should have cooked for the food blogger. You really gain respect for what these chefs do every day and what goes into each dish - the quality of ingredients, preparation, presentation - it makes you empathize with these creative culinary geniuses, how they put their heart and soul on a plate at the risk of having it torn apart. You'll leave with respect for good food and several crazy cravings. I will re-watch this several times.


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