Chef, English Hollywood film Movie review, Johnson Thomas, Rating: * * * 12

Chef, English Hollywood film Movie review, Johnson Thomas, Rating: *  *  * 12

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English Film review
Johnson Thomas

Drool worthy Culinary Delight!

Film: Chef
Cast: Jon Favreau, Scarlett Johanssen, Sofia Vergara, John Leguizama, Robert Downey Jr., Dustin Hoffman  
Director: Jon Favreau

Rating: *  *  * ½      

A tasty treat, this Jon Favreau creation has all the ingredients to make for a gastronomical success at the turnstiles. His delectable scripting/direction not only manages to stimulate your appetite but also stirs up plenty of drool worthy moments in the dramatic byplay between the protagonist, his ex-wife and young son.

Favreau casts himself as the lead character, a gruff , roly-poly high-end Los Angeles restaurant Chef, Carl Casper whose job goes on the line when a popular blogger food critic Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt) decides to come and try out his restaurant fare. Casper’s boss, restaurant owner(Dustin Hoffman) wants him to stick with the regular menu while Casper himself wants to set out an all new menu for the critic to savor. The Boss wins the first round but fails the critical test. The critic’s views go viral and Casper becomes a laughing stalk.  Casper requests his young son’s help for tweeting a response and in the process throws down the gauntlet for a second round confrontation. But with his Boss still sticking to his guns, Casper has no recourse but to leave and depend on his ex-wife Inez (Sofia Vergara)’s ex-husband/lover (Robert Downey Jr.) to bankroll him for a run down second-hand Food truck. Casper then takes us on a tour viz. a road trip  that begins in Los Angeles, relocates to Miami, then returns to the West Coast by way of tasty stopovers in New Orleans and Austin, Tex. Suffice to say, close on the heels of a sell-out tour,  Casper’s astounding culinary talents wins vindication and his career sees a great new high.

It’s the typical American story in the age of social networks where anyone can rise, fall and rise again, given the opportunity and with some concerted efforts. The ADHDness of a whole new generation is of course the catalyst. A sentimental subplot involves Carl’s relationship with his partly estranged 10-year-old son, Percy (Emjay Anthony), who becomes his social media tutor. Casper is unable to connect with his son at first and then when forced to take him along,  finds a meeting ground in his own abilities and work ethic and from therein develops a bond that strengthens as the narrative moves along.
Favreau’s treatment harkens back to his earlier ‘indie’ creations like ‘Swingers’ and ‘Made,’  even though this one(unlike his earlier creations) is stuffed to the gills with shiny star bright ingredients like Dustin Hoffman, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johanssen, Sofia Vergara and John Leguizamo. Add to that a sparkling moderately funny screenplay, well rounded and likeable characters, witty dialogues and tasty performances and you are served up  a delicatessen comedy that’s lip-smackingly delicious in tone and tenor- as buoyed by a spiced-up soundtrack that mixes salsa, soul music and country blues with Carribean flavor. Director of photography, Kramer Morgenthau makes food and scenery look delicious, the editing by Robert Leighton keeps the tempo and momentum brisk while the  production design by Denise Pizzini adds a certain richness to the servings.The overall experience is much like a light-weight soufflé, not exactly deep enough to cater to your hunger pangs, yet delicious enough to whet your appetite! Bon Appétit, this one’s a must see!


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