Monday, 7 July 2014


Chef 2014.jpg
John Favreau directing and starring, with Robert Downey Jr and Scarlett Johansson, but this time it’s less Iron Man and more Iron Chef (it took me a long time to think of that joke, so if you wish to comment please be kind). But rather than take on a supporting role in this film, as well as directing Favreau takes the helm in more ways than one as the main character. Chef Carl Casper’s reputation is destroyed overnight by a ruthless blogger (gives us a bad image). With nothing else left he takes to the streets in a food wagon and tours the country, assisted by his son and ex-wife.
I am trying not to be mean as I say this, but John Favreau looks completely at home in the kitchen, slicing his way through ingredients and stirring them together like it is nobody’s business. He has recently hit a trend for bigger blockbusters, but like his central character of the film he goes back to basics with a smaller, independent plot. Food in films is often used as a metaphor, and in this case it is used to describe many things, love, success, responsibility and desperation. But in this case not all of them are made obvious, you have to look rather close, and have a good understanding of cooking. I like that, trusting the viewer’s intelligence and sticking closely to its subject matter, for a comedy that is a sign that there is always going to be a hint of drama, rather than dumbing down the subject to compensate for the masses, they instead want the audience to thoroughly connect with the plot.
For story then, initially it gets off to a good start. But I will not try to cover up the fact that the plot is rather predictable. Think of any other film in this kind of genre, and the plot will be nearly identical, in a phrase it is ‘get knocked down, but get up again slowly’. That is a bit of a spoiler, but do not panic, the real charm behind this film lies far beyond the overall plot.
The characters are well developed and believable, as well as the impeccable acting from this star studded cast. Like I said before food is used as a metaphor frequently. The plot of this film involves much more than mere cooking. When Casper’s career crumbles he reconnects with the life that he sacrificed for it, the family life with his son and wife (Emjay Anthony and Sofia Vergara) as well as confronting her new husband, a wealthy idiosyncratic hedonist (Robert Downey Jr at home, not a huge jump from a ‘genius billionaire playboy philanthropist’).
The wide variety of set pieces offered from travelling the country in a food wagon are used to great effect, as well as the cultural music from each area to represent the ever changing tone of the film. Perhaps at times there is a distinct element of too much drama instead of time that could be used to see more food related comedy. Normally this would not be too much of a problem, but due to the fact that this is marketed as a comedy film, and not a comedy-drama, we are expecting a lot more comedy than drama (if you have understood that then well done).
But the film is able to keep a light tone, so the effects are as minimal as they can be. It is good natured and pleasing to the eye, so if you want to be entertained and sweetened then this is a very promising film to satisfy those parts of your taste.

Result: 6.4/10

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