18 Days of Movie Reviews #2: Chef

Jon Favreau is probably most famous for his Iron Man movies, but at heart he’s always been an independent filmmaker. He’s a guy who loves to celebrate the little guy and give credit where credit is due. His show Dinner For Five on the Independent Film Channel, showcased both his love for the film industry and his ability to humanize celebrities. So when I found out his latest film wasn’t going to be a blockbuster but instead a movie about a guy with a food truck, I smiled.

Last night my girlfriend asked that we watch a ‘feel good movie’ and while I hadn’t seen Chef, I was pretty sure it would cover that. Jon Favreau writes, directs, and stars in Chef, a movie about a down on his luck Chef who stops working in a restaurant in LA and instead gets a food truck in Miami. Everything about the plot screams independent film fun. But Favreau has made some friends along the way so bit parts are played by people such as Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr., and Dustin Hoffman. It’s an indie movie with A List talent.

For the most part, Chef is exactly what you expect. There’s enough great shots of food that you’d better be full when you start watching it. There’s a fair amount of comedy. Things never really get dark. It’s one of those movies that just makes you feel warm.

The soundtrack is probably the biggest surprise of the movie. The music reflects the different locales of the scenes and it’s almost infectious. This is music that makes you want to dance and it invigorates the movie though some may find the music/food prep montage a bit over used in this particular film, it helps that both the music and the food are good.

Chef uses social media as an effective plot device throughout the film and their use of Twitter is so expansive that I genuinely hope Twitter gave them some money. If this was product placement, it’s exactly how product placement should be done.

Jon Favraeu’s costars include John Leguizamo as his loyal sous chef and Emjay Anthony as his young son, Percy. The relationship between father and son is one of the more endearing parts of the movie. They’re relationship is far from perfect, but it evolves throughout the film and feels authentic.

If there’s any significant criticism I might have for Chef it’s the lack of a second act conflict. Things sometimes go a bit too easily for our heroes, but that’s an easy thing to forgive.

True to his independent roots, Chef effectively evokes that individual spirit. While I’m sure any foodie will get twice as much out of this movie, I’d argue that anyone wanting to strike out on their own will find inspiration in Chef.

– Jack Cameron

Chef is available to stream on Netflix this month. You can rent or purchase Chef at this link. 

Tomorrow’s Review: John Wick


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