We saw a screening of Chef earlier this week. The movie centers around Chef Carl Casper (played by Jon Favreau) who is going through a bit of a mid-life / career crisis. Stuck in a comfortable yet dead-end job as chef de cuisine at a successful restaurant where he has no true culinary control, Casper has a public melt-down that takes him and us on a literal and figurative journey across the country on, of all things, a food truck.
In addition to starring in the movie, Jon Favreau is also the writer and director. He really captures the essence of a maturing chef who is grasping for a return to his early success. The cast features John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Emjay Anthony, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt and Sofia Vergara. Two of Favreau’s Iron Man cohorts, Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr., have small but pivotal roles.
We were skeptical about the movie before we saw the screening, but we were optimistic based on the cast. As it turns out, we really enjoyed the movie. In fact, it hit many of our buttons – food, travel, personal relationship and social media.
If you’ve seen any commercials or trailers, then you already know that Chef involves food. A lot of it. Having been on both sides of many restaurants and a few food trucks, we were surprised by how much the movie gets right. The kitchen scenes have an authentic feel, which makes sense considering that Roy Choi is a Producer of the movie. It makes even more sense if you stay for the movie’s closing credits, which you should.
We knew the movie would be about food. We were pleasantly surprised that the movie features one of our other passions – travel. Set in Los Angeles but with stops in Miami, New Orleans and Austin, the movie is inspiring us to plan our own road trip using the same route. Plus, we’re been craving beignets from cheap eats in New Orleans ever since we saw the movie.
There are lots of movies about food these days. Food is downright hot. And there have been movies about road trips going back to the days of black and white film. However, it’s unusual for one movie to combine food and travel with fully developed personal relationships. In addition to the expected romantic relationship, Chef addresses relationships between colleagues and friends. The father / son relationship especially rang true. Between the well-written script and the excellent cast, we were fully engaged by the interactions among the different characters as well as with their crises and their search for happiness.
A major theme in the movie involves social media. Twitter and its subsidiary Vine are practically main characters. Even though we totally related to much of it, especially the early scenes involving Casper’s introduction to Twitter, we thought it went a bit too far. We were both reminded of the usage of the AOL tagline “You’ve Got Mail” in the movie of that same name. To us, it was too much. We get it. They bought in.
We definitely recommend the movie Chef. It’s a well-rounded film about characters with whom we can relate. The food and travel scenes are an added bonus. It goes over the top with the tweeting Twitter birds, but it’s overall a solid film.
Tip: Definitely plan a nice dinner for after the movie. You will want to discuss the film over a good meal. Cuban would be ideal. Or, like us, you can have a burger and fries at the local Shake Shack. Whatever works for you.
The photos are courtesy of www.chefthefilm.com.