Director: Jon Favreau
Cast: Jon Favreau, John Leguzamo, Robert Downey Jr., Sophia Vergara, Scarlet Johansson, Emjay Anthony, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Pratt, Bobby Cannavale
Screenplay: Jon Favreau
Jon Favreau’s new film “Chef” is quite different from his “Iron Man” films, but he re-esembles his Marvel buddies in roles that compliment Carl Casper, a Chef looking for a new artistic renaissance. Though the film opens at a very weak note, you begin to see what Favreau does with the way he organizes his narrative and he delivers a strong dramedy that will look good in his overall filmography. His starring role is worth the watch, and his use of his mostly typecasted ensemble was effective.
Writer-directed Favreau also plays the title role of Chef Carl Casper, who works in an upscale restaurant. When conflicts with the restaurant’s owner (Dustin Hoffman) leads to him serving an important food blogger a generic and unimpressive menu, Casper’s career finds itself in a downward spiral. With the help of his son (Anthony), best friend/co-worker (Leguzamo) and his successful ex-wife (Vergara), Casper sets out on a venture to create a food truck. Here, he rediscovers his artistic roots and why he loved cooking the first place.
Though the subject matter seems quite strange for Favreau, it’s extremely effective. He carries the film very well, even though he’s surrounded with superstars with larger personalities and careers. He becomes Chef Carl Casper, and his ensemble supports the director with light humour that seemed pretty fitting for the tone of the picture. My only main problem with the film is that the first act seemed to be quite slow. The monochromatic colors, boring cinematography and slow storytelling really had me itching for first half of the film. It isn’t till midway, when the film truly picked up pace again.
The film picked up pace, around half way through when Chef Casper begins his food truck venture. This is when you begin to realize that Favreau really intended for a slow paced and rather dull opening. As Casper begins to explore his artistic side, the explosive colors of Miami and the delicious appearances of simple foods steal the screen. The cinematography is vastly improved, as well as the acting, the dialogue and almost every aspect the film had to offer. It could have been a different movie, because though the attempt to make it this way seemed like a good idea, it kind of didn’t work so well on film.
As an actor, Favreau’s starring role was great. His ensemble, was pure ensemble. No one having bigger screentime then the other (arguably his son and Leguzamo had the second most screentime as they helped him with the food truck) but the film is mostly focused Chef Casper. It wasn’t entirely a bad thing. Favreau, not being as big a star as Downey Jr. and Johansson made the film more believable (but maybe not as interesting as it potentially could have been). It’s a fun film, there to make you feel good and especially hungry. But unfortunately, by the time bigger and more special films come out this year, it’ll be ultimately forgotten.