SYNOPSIS: Chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) suddenly quits his job at a prominent Los Angeles restaurant after refusing to compromise his creative integrity for its controlling owner (Dustin Hoffman), he is left to figure out
what's next. Finding himself in Miami, he teams up with his ex-wife (Sofia Vergara), his friend (John Leguizamo) and his son to launch a food truck. Taking to the road, Chef Carl goes back to his roots to reignite his passion for the kitchen -- and zest for life and love.
REVIEW: I’m quite use to walking into a screening, without having a clue about what the movie is going to be about. Not so much with the big budget spectacles (more popular and talked about), but more with the smaller releases. In those situations I never know whether I’d like it or loath it (right up to the opening scene), or if it’s even worth the screening time. Well, in this case, I wasn’t prepared for how good this flick was going to be. As a matter of fact, I had never even heard of this flick until just prior to the screening. So as one can imagine there was lots of apprehension, on my part, whilst walking in to the theaters. Needless to say, my options were limited, and I’ve already seen enough of both big budget and indie films to know that anything goes when it comes to a screening. So judging a book by its cover is certainly not a viable option in this field.
Now, more to the point, Chef is a beautiful example of art imitating life. Jon Favreau is probably best known at this point as the director of the first two Iron Man movies and (to a lesser extent, deservedly) Cowboys & Aliens; However, Chef seems to mark a return to a more modest level of filmmaking for Favreau. He is a fascinating storyteller, and this latest effort is the type of story he deserves to tell. It is loaded with cameos and appearances that will certainly entertain. Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man, I,II,III) is awesome, Scarlett Johansson (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, 2014) is her usual beautiful and charming self with John Leguizamo is being the magnificent, funny best friend, just to name a few. But with all the star power behind this delightful little flick, the most notable of all has got to be relatively newcomer little Emjay Anthony, playing the chef’s son. Being a Florida native, he pretty much carries the entire 115 minute flick on his own. He is, hands down, the best child actor out there today. His quiet, but over-powering charm commands attention in each and every scene. He is as believe an actor as any of his adult counterparts in this movie. I think that last time such a convincing young actor graced the screen was when young Drew Barrymore gave such an awesome performance, in 1982’s ET: the Extraterrestrial. With that, I would proclaim that this youngster is the one to watch.
Though the movie’s title suggest the culinary arts, I would submit that it’s less about the actual cooking and more about some food, great friendships and the importance of family. The title doesn’t do the movie justice at all. It should have been titled in a way that encompasses the view of a youngster spending and awesome summer with his dad. Those elements of the flick shone brighter than the fact that the lead character happens to be a pseudo-famous chef.
What I got with Chef was a reminder of why I love ‘Indie’ movies. It has many of elements that make for great storytelling. Great acting, beautiful locations (i.e. Miami’s Little Havana) and an awesome multicultural sound track (not just top 40 pop). It certainly deserves four and a half stars out of five and is a great family movie for the theaters.
By Movi-Man Stan
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