Film Review: “Chef”

***OUT OF 4

chef-posterDirector-writer-producer-actor Jon Favreau (“Swingers”, “Iron Man”) cooks up a lovely comedy about food and the vicissitudes of life in this poignant return to indie-style filmmaking. As a storyteller Favureau employs a variety of riches with a reliance on social media such as Twitter and the tyranny of critics threaded through the narrative to give it a contemporary feel.

Faveau, an actor of remarkable skill, portrays Carl Casper, a master chef of a trendy Los Angeles restaurant. As a divorced father and workaholic, Carl has a complicated life in which he spends weekends with his 11 year-old-son Percy (a wonderful Emjay Anthony) but hooks up with his alluring floor manager (Scarlett Johansson)during the week.. It’s a tiny, but, skillfully played role for such a formidable actress as Johansson, who probably was in the film as a favor to the director.

What drives the compelling plot is Carl’s interaction with food critic and nemesis –Ramsey Michel, played superbly by actor Oliver Platt. In real life it happens that Oliver’s brother, Adam is the chief food critic at New York Magazine. The critic’s negative review causes a major fight with the restaurant owner (Dustin Hoffman) which, in turn, causes Carl to set on a new adventure as the owner of his own gourmet Cuban food truck which he takes on a cross country odyssey.

The pleasures of regional cuisines such as barbecue, Latin music and a blues break from Gary Clark Jr. plus the added tension of Percy’s mother played pitch perfectly by none other than Sofia Vergara make this film entertaining and fun. I would be remiss if I did not mention that two of Carl’s kitchen crew are played by the great John Leguizamo and Bobby Cannavale.

In a summer full of comic book tent pole features this pic is a cure for Hollywood fast food. It is recommended without reservations!

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