Jon Favreau’s Chef is a celebration of food, family, and change. In this low budget, Indie-style film, Jon Favreau plays a L.A. chef Carl Casper who gained popularity in the culinary world with his adventurous dishes and out-of-the-box thinking. However, Carl falls into a rut when he is forced by his restaurateur boss to create the same dishes night after night. This is until a snooty food critic leaves a harsh review online, leading Carl to have a meltdown that goes viral. Without a job and wanting to reinvent himself, Carl takes a risk by purchasing a food truck. He then travels across the country with the help of his 10-year-old son, Percy, who also acts as his social media tutor. Documenting their travels on their twitter page, the trucks begins to acquire a social media following as chef Carl Casper fulfills his creative endeavours.
With performances by Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sofia Vergara, and John Leguizamo, as well as cameos by Dustin Hoffman and Bobby Cannavale, Chef possesses the star power of a high-budget Hollywood Blockbuster. As Carl’s somewhat girlfriend, Scarlett Johansson provides the audience with subdued glamour and womanly wisdom throughout the first half of the movie. Sofia Vergara did well in the role of Carl’s sensible, grounded, and blunt ex-wife. Bobby Cannavale and John Leguizamo both do a great job accurately portraying the struggle between loyalty to others and loyalty to their careers. Percy (played by Emjay Anthony) is hard to find unlikeable as the ten-year-old son to Carl who simply desires the time with his father that he never had growing up. However, there are moments can that make viewers question what should be an air-tight plot. Still, the movie has many enjoyable and heartfelt moments. The quick-paced and dynamic setting of the movie kept the viewer entertained while keeping the story easy to follow. Furthermore, this fast-paced tempo of the story perfectly mirrored the way in which Carl’s life changed drastically in a short period of time.
It is no secret that Chef possessed many Latin influences in the fields of food, music, and location. This is aided by the fact that the movie takes place in three cultural melting-pots of the U.S., Los Angeles, Miami, and New Orleans. Though this movie features aspects of Latin culture such as cuban sandwiches and Latin music, the depth at which the culture is explored goes about as deep as an episode of Modern Family.
Overall, Chef is successful in providing a pleasant cinematic road trip, yet leaves some loose ends that can leave a bad taste in viewers’ mouths.