Chef (2014)

Cooking and food unlike any other art forms, can be appreciated by everybody, for its not difficult to understand, we are biologically programmed to find it appealing and of all the expressions of creativity is perhaps the easiest ”to””digest” . Although we see a lot of food in movies, we don’t see too many food movies anymore. So this much talked about venture by the man who played Iron Man’s cheauffer was a movie which incited the rather alien concept of anticipation in me.

Jon Favreau plays an overweight, chef caught in that very familiar rut which is getting so easy to market to us audiences. His creativity being suppressed by Dustin Hoffman who is the owner of the restaurant in which he works. Scarlett Johansson is the Maitre D who is the groupie to this tattooed creator of amuse bouche and what not. Then there is the assistant chef/friend, John Leguizamo who is to the stereotypical Latino role what Gandolfini was to the Italian mobster. Sofia Vergara carries her Modern Family self, to the table as the Chef’s ex-wife with a small appearance by Robert Downey Jr. as her ex-ex husband. The story takes off as a hot shot food blogger/reviewer (Oliver Platt) visits and reviews the tasty if uninspired menu at Favreau’s restaurant. What follows is a well written but downright demeaning review burning out our culinary genius. As the man makes a spectacle of himself, becomes an online sensation and looses his job, begins the journey to fulfilling his dreams. So the chef chooses to become a food Trucker making stuff which is truer to himself than to those from whom more money can be made.

Such movies are not meant to be unpredictable, I mean despite a little language which any self respecting child is anyway up to date with, there is nothing which stops this from being a tall pitcher of happy endings and earning a pat on the back as a family movie. It fits this genre in more sense than one, with a you don’t spend enough time with me/take me on a road trip/ shucks I love my son but have no time for him – father son relationship being pretty much the storyline. The son, does a great job in the film. The success of the chef’s food is shown bolstered by an incredible amount of Tweeting and Vining and Facebooking. If you don’t get how this works, don’t worry a 10 year old shall devote some time to its explanation. While the overall air of the picture was a pleasing one I had a few bones to pick:

  1. There are parts of the movie where you clearly feel, the storyline isn’t smooth and consistent.
  2. Although offering a lot of visually stunning food photography and elements to which the viewers of food TV shows might relate to, there is nothing new about the life of a chef that’s showcased.
  3. Ironically the review which marks the beginning of the food story is pretty spot on about the film too, its hearty, its filling and even tasty at points but then again it seems a little needy. With forced humor popping its head now and again and a father son bond put too little stretch on the imagination and too much on stereotype.
  4. Gloria can be pretty irritating when parted from her ageing husband and decidedly ‘modern’ family.
  5. You don’t take talent like that of Dustin Hoffman and Oliver Platt and not showcase it. The rain man shares not one glimpse of his toothy smile.

Overall the entire spectacle is a decent watch, made palatable with the excellent Cuban music in the air. But it is not difficult to see that the actor/writer/director has become more used to audiences who are awed by flying metal suits ,often let details escape them, details like you don’t put garlic before the olive oil in the pan when cooking.

7/10

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A Cubano, what you risk hankering for at the end of this flick.
A Cubano, what you risk hankering for at the end of this flick.
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