Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Chef [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

I like food, you like food, we all like food. This was the first thing that intrigued me about 'Chef.' Yes, it has a stacked cast, including supporting roles from Robert Downy Jr., Scarlett Johansson and Dustin Hoffman. But, what I was more worried about, was what  kind-of story this loaded cast would show me as I watched this film. I didn't really know what to expect out of this story until I actually started watching. Yes it's loaded with talent, but it's also loaded with a ton of heart. You don't get that with a ton of movies anymore, a truly feel good film that doesn't come off as cliche, even though it is a little bit.

"What if I just cook you something?"

'Chef' follows the story of Carl Casper (Jon Favreau), a chef, who has a chance to impress one of the biggest food critics, Ramsey Michael (Oliver Platt) with his work at the restaurant he cooks for in California. The owner of the place, Riva (Dustin Hoffman), wants him to play it safe with the menu and it ultimately causes a sub par review for Casper. While all this is going on, Casper is struggling to find middle ground with his ex-wife, Inez (Sofia Vergara) and get to know his son, Percy (Emjay Anthony), a little more. He also has to keep up relationships and friendships with his co-workers Molly (Scarlett Johansson), the hostess, Martin (John Leguizamo), his line cook and Tony (Bobby Cannavale), his sous chef. Things turn south when Casper discovers Twitter, sends an ill-advised Tweet to Ramsey and it leads to him quitting his job. Now Casper finds himself in Miami, where he grew up, with an offer from Marvin (Robert Downey Jr.), Inez' first ex-husband, to start anew.  This is going to be the summer where Casper reinvigorates his life, bonds with his son and it's all in an unlikely place for him, on a food truck.

"Tony, Carl's got a f***ing taco truck!"
"For real? Like with tacos 'n s***?"
"Yeah, I would assume."

This is one of those films where you're completely reliant on the story and acting. If the story's bad it doesn't matter how good the acting is. If the acting is bad, you could have the best story ever written and it would come off as lame. 'Chef' and Jon Favreau really did find the sweet spot in all of this. The casting was impeccable and everyone was pretty great in the their roles. Led by Favreau, Anthony and Leguizamo's fantastic chemistry, this trio in the movie is so refreshing to watch. The emotion and laughs poured through perfectly. The scenes they're in in the second and final acts of the film are amazing. I also expected nothing less from people like Hoffman, Johansson and Downey Jr. All of them are spot on in their various supporting roles throughout the film. Then you have the people like Vergara, who is now more known for comedy and 'Modern Family.' This is a nice example of her being able to blend drama and comedy well. Not saying this is strictly a dramatic film at all either, there is a ton of funny moments peppered throughout this film. You're not going to be laughing straight through, as there are some pretty emotional spots, but there was hardly a point in the film where I wasn't smiling. This is a movie, that is written very well from top to bottom. Fun fact, Jon Favreau reportedly wrote it in two weeks. That's just damn impressive to me. This all leads me to the music. I'm really into, at least lately, films with great music and soundtracks, and 'Chef' is no different. If you like Latin inspired music and Latin jazz, this film is chalk full of it and it all sounds authentic. There was never a point where I felt the score or music itself was annoying. They blended it all so well with each point in the film and it was pretty damn fun to listen to. Plus the food, THE FOOD! It wasn't just artsy fartsy fancy stuff. The food made throughout this film looked amazing. From filet mignon to a simple grilled cheese sandwich, they spared no expense, making me feel the urge to eat.

"What are you doing?"
"Dude, I'm putting a little cornstarch on my huevos, man. It's a little too humid down here."

For me, this is almost a complete film. The story is great, the characters are real and relatable, there's emotion and laughs, while the visuals are tasty. There are a few spots where the movie dragged on and a few scenes that probably didn't need to be in there either. But, I don't want to harp on those. I'd rather talk about how this is a feel good movie. You're gonna be smiling throughout, wanting to try new food, rooting for Casper and just plain having fun. I think I wrote this is another recent review. What is a movie, like this, if you're not gonna have some fun watching it? Movies are there to entertain us, make us feel connections and sometimes even hit close to home. 'Chef' is a film that clicks on every level and everyone should see it.

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