Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Chef (2014)

Director: Jon Favreau

Writer: Jon Favreau

Starring: Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Emjay Anthony, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Sofia Vergara, Oliver Platt, Amy Sedaris, Robert Downey Jr.

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Starting from scratch never tasted so good.

Plot: A chef who loses his restaurant job starts up a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative promise, while piecing back together his estranged family.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yeah.

Story-wise, CHEF is a conventional, by the numbers Hollywood film.  It hits the beats that you'd expect.  A professional man who takes pride in his work like an artist and decides to shed his corporate structure and strike out on his own to do things his way.  He's got a strained relationship with his young son and uses the opportunity to get closer to him.  Sound familiar?  Yeah, it's been done to death.  But Favreau takes the tired formula and, despite the abundance of cliches, makes an entertaining and really fun picture.  It's very upbeat, the pacing is great, the images of food are fetishistic, the performances are fun and, for the most part, there's very little conflict.  I was really digging the picture and it seemed like everything was going really well with nothing getting in the way of Carl (Favreau) and his son's, Percy (Anthony) happiness when suddenly Carl throws a monkey wrench into the whole thing shortly before the end (they really waited to the last minute on the friction) which felt about as forced as you can get.  WTF?  It's like spending the weekend at Disneyworld and you're having a blast with your parents and you couldn't be getting along any better and then as you're walking back to the car on the last day your dad turns to you and says, "Get the fuck in the car, I'm taking you back to the orphanage."  It's about as fucked up as that.  I hated it.  It's such a great ride and I kept thinking how nice this was that there's nothing bad happening and then BAM!  It's not shocking that the film ends on a very happy note but the tremendous emotional impact you get from that is not made any more powerful because of the bullshit move Carl pulls on his son.  The film was strong enough to not need that.  I've been bitching about this type of scenario for years.  Wouldn't it be nice to see a movie that's all happy and fun with no conflict?  Favreau almost made one.  Despite that frustrating bit of business it's still a great flick.  It's currently streaming on Netflix. 

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