Chef Review

By: Vivien Pong
     Chef is hands-down one of the best films I have seen this year. At the end of the film, one could feel the entire audience smiling. Now that it’s returning to theaters this weekend in a wide-release, you can’t—and shouldn’t—miss it.
     Chef has something for everyone: comedy, (some) romance, a stellar cast, and of course, tons and tons of food. I repeat: so much food. A good portion of the film is dedicated to slow, close-up shots of sizzling Cuban sandwiches, beautifully lit dishes, and colorful produce. Director and writer Jon Favreau does a tremendous job creating a film that is basically a love letter to the art of good food.

Make no mistake, the theme of food does not take away from the storyline or the acting in Chef. Jon Favreau also stars as the main character, Carl Casper, a divorced and disgruntled chef who is tired of cooking “uncreatively” for a well-known Los Angeles restaurant. After dramatically quitting his job, Casper decides he will cook what his passion drives him to cook. He embarks on a cross-country journey in his new food truck, taking along his young son Percy (Emjay Anthony), for some much needed father-son bonding. The film also stars John Leguizamo and Bobby Cannavale as Casper’s co-chefs, Sofia Vergara as his incredibly patient ex-wife, and Oliver Platt as a famed food critic. Dustin HoffmanScarlett Johansson, and Robert Downey Jr. all have cameos in the film. The screenplay is sharp and witty, lending a very loose and improv-esque feel to the movie. The cast bounces well off each other and none of the film feels overly cheesy—except the slow-motion shots of mouthwatering grilled cheese sandwiches. And with a soundtrack stuffed with Latin and New Orleans jazz, Hip-Hop, and the Blues, Chef hits all the right notes.

     Chef is, at its heart, a love letter to not only food, but the process of making it and the passion the chefs bring to their creations. Favreau purposely wanted the film to be on the smaller side—an independent film—and it works. The film feels personable and homey. A bigger budget production would have overshadowed the core message. Through the lens of the camera, one can feel the passion Favreau has for cooking. When asked to describe the film, I always say that it’s tons of fun and heartwarming, which makes it stand out among all of the dark superhero films and tragic romances that have been gracing the big screen as of late. And who doesn’t want to have fun at the movies?
VERDICT : Incredible
Chef is a fun, heartwarming film that is guaranteed to make you leave the theater smiling. And hungry.
Positives : Fantastic acting, hilarious and loose script, great soundtrack
Negatives : Abrupt ending