Review: Chef

Chef PosterA chef who loses his restaurant job starts up a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative promise, while piecing back together his estranged family.

Jon Favreau wrote, directed and stars in this quite sweet little food-based discovery of self and overall it’s a nice film. Favreau brings in his friends Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson and the cast, Favreau included, are wonderful and bring a tasty buffet of talent. There’s some delicious food-porn and the music choices in particular are tasty indeed!

If you want to see it and enjoy it, I suggest you stop reading here. Because as much as I liked watching it, the film has some unfortunate flavour clashes that leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth on reflection.

I think Favreau’s menu had a lot of great ingredients, but each dish was sadly left feeling incomplete and under seasoned. We are introduced to wonderful characters, Downey Jr. in particular, that are a single flavour-note, dropped in and never developed. Johansson, similarly, is shown, used for a couple of scenes to add spice, then left by the wayside.

The main plot trajectory, of Favreau’s Chef’s reconciliation with his son, was the main arc, and it sometimes felt that everything else was kind of tacked on; even the food elements seemed to be merely a little sizzle for the over-done steak of a pretty standard plot.

The social media elements, the heavy use of Twitter, Vine, Facebook et al at first were a nice touch, but ended up being heavily overused, to the point that it started feeling like an infomercial, which left a bitter taste in the mouth.

I think if the middle of the film had been expanded out somewhat, a culinary road trip across America, picking up ingredients and ideas and re-expanding Chef’s connection to food, his customers and his son, this would have been a more satisfying film. But sadly, as it was, what looked initially to be a taste explosion, turned out to be bland, souring the inspiration and great ingredients that went into it.

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