Chef Review: A Satisfying Meal, Even If the Portion is Too Big

Photo Credit:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tP6SE65F-h4

Chef is a smaller filmmaking challenge for director Jon Favreau, which mostly works as a growth from his previous, much larger experiences.

The last three films Favreau directed were Iron ManIron Man 2, and Cowboys & Aliens. Carl, the main character in Chef played by Favreau himself, is a chef at a restaurant limited to a menu that brings the restaurant money, not a menu that tries anything inventive.

The conversations Carl has with his boss (Dustin Hoffman) feel like they could have been the conversations Favreau had with Marvel president Kevin Feige during the formulaic but serviceable Iron Man 2. Carl is an artist, and an artist needs room to explore and try new things. Cooking the same menu every night doesn’t please the creative mind. It’s why I don’t just write movie reviews.

Chef is about artists, their craft, and the systems that deliver art to the public. It’s a clever metaphor, one that would have worked better had the film’s third act moved a little quicker.

But the story of Carl also reconnecting with his son softens the cynicism the director might have toward his craft. It lends a heart to the film.

Carl’s life is turned upside down when he can’t handle a critic’s response to a menu he was forced to cook. He gets fired and his fit of rage is an Internet sensation. So he goes and tries to open a food truck.

The problem with Chef is that once it’s done commenting on art and art criticism, it ends up being rather bland and slow. There’s not much conflict in the second half of the movie and it’s fairly predictable, but that’s not to say bad. The script has a wonderfully light sense of humor and Favreau plays off of his on-screen son incredibly well.

So while Chef isn’t the answer to blockbuster filmmaking its director hopes it is, it never loses its charm or delightful simplicity. It’s like that indie bistro Gothamist wrote about last week that you’ll likely enjoy, but won’t become your favorite restaurant. Grade: B+

By Matt Dougherty

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