Jon Favreau has truly made his reputation as both an actor and a filmmaker. For his recent outing, Favreau truly brings heart in this film as a down-and-out chef who learns a lesson in and out of the kitchen.
Carl Casper was once the talk of the town when he was an aspiring chef in Miami. Now living in Los Angeles, he is the chef of Riva’s restaurant and a divorced dad to ten-year old Percy. He has become a workaholic who tries to spend more time with Percy but makes it difficult. Especially when he learns popular food blogger Ramsay Michel is coming to review his food. When Riva orders Carl to stick to the menu, Carl learns to regret it and after a scathing review by the blogger, Carl goes a downward spiral which culminates in him quitting his job and making a scene on the day he quits, making him an Internet hit
However, his ex-wife Inez makes him an offer that he has no other choice but to take. Carl decides to go back to Miami and since it is summer, brings Percy with him. With support from Inez’s first husband, Carl gets a food truck. As Carl prepares the truck, he gets even a bigger shock when his friend from Los Angeles, Martin, quits his job because he wants to help Carl with the truck. Carl, Martin, and Percy decide on a road trip.
This is definitely a wonderful comedy-drama in which Jon Favreau truly shows his passion as both an actor and a filmmaker. The Iron Man helmer really showcases himself as the titular Carl, who at the top of his game, finds himself on the bottom of the barrel due to his constant clashing with his boss, played in an extended cameo by Dustin Hoffman. Carl believes he has the passion but he is truly held back constantly and it is when he reads a scathing review by a one-time admirer turned food blogger that he finally snaps.
It is clear that the film’s theme is redemption and Carl is the soul that needs to redeem himself. Favreau depicts Carl as down and out as a chef and at first, seems more into work than his relationship with his son, played well by Emjay Anthony. The film makes good use of extended cameos from Favreau’s friends Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, and in a very funny and pivotal scene, Robert Downey Jr. It is during the road trip act that Carl truly finds himself redeeming himself.
What really helps is that John Leguizamo is the perfect comic foil to Favreau’s redeeming chef as best friend Martin. The chemistry between Favreau and Leguizamo as well as the chemistry between Favreau and Anthony truly has a natural feel and is not forced as it tends to be in other films.
Chef is truly a wonderful comedy with heart and a winner of a film. Jon Favreau has put the stamp as one of Hollywood’s finest talents with this tale of redemption. A must see for all film fans.
WFG RATING: A+
Open Road Pictures an Aldamisa Entertainment/Fairview Pictures production in association with Kilgore Media. Director: Jon Favreau. Producer: Jon Favreau. Writer: Jon Favreau. Cinematography: Kramer Morganthau. Editing: Robert Leighton.
Cast: Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Emjay Anthony, Bobby Cannavale, Sofia Vergara, Oliver Platt, Dustin Hoffman, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Sedaris, Robert Downey Jr.