At a time when MasterChef and its numerous avatars are ruling over our TV screen, there comes a big screen version of Eat Street, another foodie TV program, which celebrates food and relationships in a charming way.
Intagram and Twitter might make it easy for the common man or woman to announce to the world what they had for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or in-between on any given day, but Jon Favreau takes everything a step further by combining this love and craze for food and mixing it up with a heartwarming tale of a personal relationship between a father and son.
Gorgeous to look at and hunger inducing, Chef is seasoned rather well with a supporting cast that features big names like Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr., Dustin Hoffman, Sofia Vergara, and Oliver Platt, but it is Jon Favreau’s Carl Caper as the celebrity chef who loses it after getting a bad review and must find his roots that steals the show along with Emjay Anthony who plays Casper’s son Percy and John Leguizamo’s Martin as Casper’s Sous Chef who leaves everything behind to join Casper in his journey of self-discovery.
Chef, besides presenting a gastronomically excellent fare, also is musically brilliant. After Guardians of the Galaxy, this is the second film I have seen recently that utilizes music perfectly so that it seeps into the story and forms a part of it. Furthermore, there is a general feel good factor that runs throughout the film which excels by adding the right amount of essential ingredients, such as music, emotion, passion, philosophy, and food more so visually.
Unfortunately, while on the one hand Chef capitalizes on its positives, it also lacks a certain depth and drama that would have taken the film a notch higher. The hurdles that Casper faces seem a tad superficial and thus his path to rediscovering his passion for food suffers due to a lack of complexity.
What is even more troublesome is that the film acts like an advert for social media, especially Twitter, highlighting the pros and cons of being on the internet as Casper discovers that tweeting isn’t private and ends up in a war of words with the food critic that gave him a bad review, but the very same social medial is later used by his son to his benefit as they travel around the country in a food truck. While this might have worked a few years back when all this was new, now it just seems like a forced lecture in Social Media 101.
Problems aside, Chef is a well made and likeable film that can be enjoyed with the family and one that tries its best to be part of the “cool” crowd with all its social media integration and jargon. Part romantic comedy, part coming of age film, and part family drama, it combines all these aspect in a subtly comic way and presents a dish that is sure to please everyone who pays for it.