Chef Carl was hailed as the next big thing in the LA food scene, but his career hasn’t taken off as hoped, no thanks to restaurant owner Riva (Dustin Hoffman), who is more interested in making money than having a varied menu. Every one of Carl’s pleas to spice up the menu is met with a firm rejection.
Carl loves his job but is annoyed by the limitations placed on him. He’s being held back from showing off what he can do in the kitchen. Imagine if you had a boss who forced you to work in a way that killed your potential for growth. It wouldn’t be nice, would it? So we feel Carl’s pain with this aspect in the back of our mind.
His frustrations reach a breaking point when Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt), a high profile food critic gives his dishes a terrible review. The next time he visits the restaurant, Carl goes nuts and his blistering rant goes viral on YouTube – which instantly gets him the sack.
Going back to basics, with the help of his son Percy (Emjay Anthony) and sidekick Martin (John Leguizamo), Carl starts a takeway service in a food truck. From here, the film becomes a redemption story. They go on a working trip across America to find new customers and in doing so, Carl reconnects with his passion. Watching Jon Favarea slice and dice all kinds of tasty food is riviting, concidering that culinary isn’t my thing. The fact I enjoyed it in a movie shows Chef is very well done.
The mood is feel-good, with funky, high-tempo music playing in the second half of the film. There is a lot to like here and the movie doesn’t do much wrong, but there aren’t any moments I would call “great”. It jollies a long at a satisfying pace, throwing in standard comedy and drama. The plot is a familair recipe but at its core, it’s about a father and son trying to build a better relationship with each other. The direction is light and the stakes are low, as Carl is out to prove he’s more than just an angry chef on YouTube.
An occasionally funny film that mostly rides on charm. This is a simple story with a bouncy rhythem that makes it easy to go along with. Long-term, it won’t be remembered, but it’s good-natured and good fun. Bon Appittie!
Check out the trailer below:
Directed and written by: Jon Favreau
Stars: Jon Favreau, Emjay Anthony, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr., John Leguizamo.
Distributor: Open Road Films
Run Time: 114 Minutes