Jon Favreau is a man of many talents. Three of those talents, of course, are his directing, writing, and acting abilities. Known the world over for helming the first two Iron Man films and for his comedic roles in films like Swingers, Made (also as writer & director), and for playing one of Monica’s boyfriends on TV’s Friends. Favreau’s latest film Chef, has the man pulling triple duty and this fun, original film may be his best work to date.
The film focuses on Carl Casper (Favreau), a renowned chef in a popular L.A. restaurant who, after reading a bad review from a respected food critic goes off and has an intensely passive-aggressive episode. Casper, feeling defeated and humiliated, decides to go into business for himself by buying a food truck and selling Cuban sandwiches on a road trip with his former kitchen colleague (John Leguizamo) and his estranged son (Emjay Anthony).
Everything about this movie is of the utmost quality just like Carl’s food on screen. The acting is top notch with an all star cast including Sofia Vergara, Scarlet Johansson, Oliver Platt, Bobby Cannavale, Dustin Hoffman, and Robert Downey, Jr. All of the performances here are strong, genuine, and funny and the kitchen featuring exchanges between Favreau, Leguizamo, and Cannavale are just priceless. Also worthy of praise is young Emjay Anthony (It’s Complicated, Rake) who plays Carl’s deeply introspective son. This kid has some real acting chops and his performance here definitely proves it. Look out for this one.
Chef delves into some serious issues while at same, keeping the tone light and fun. Favreau has a potential award-winner on hands with this heartfelt, humorous, and charming look at a man who is just doing the best he can. Audiences will appreciate Favreau’s “everyman” character and with such a strong supporting cast backing him up, there is no room for error here.
Favreau’s script flows beautifully with every line of dialogue delivered with expert precision. The conflicts Carl experiences in the film are very realistic and seem as though they can happen to anyone. A career going through a rough patch, a family on the verge of dysfunction, and a man trying to meaning in his life, Chef has all of this and then some! Carl’s journey isn’t simply just driving a food truck, feeding the masses, his journey is an internal one and the people who occupy his life are supremely affected by it.
I recommend anyone who likes solid dramedies to check out this surprisingly original and entertaining film. Favreau should really continue making movies like this because they show the humanity of his characters. A pet project of Favreau’s, Chef has all the makings of a wonderful film well on its way to award season. There really isn’t anything bad about Chef and the scenes of Carl performing his culinary magic are basically food porn and it will definitely make you want to eat. Favreau pleasantly surprised me with this film and he’ll surprise you too.
Chef will be released theatrically on May 9th.