Jon Favreau makes “Iron Man” movies and crummy blockbuster comedies. What’s he doing getting his cooking chops down and stepping in front of the camera, and behind it, for “Chef,” a mouth-watering culinary wish fulfillment fantasy?
Take this script, which he wrote, directed and stars in, as a metaphor for his film career. And the actor Favreau brings his A-game patter to this romp about an embattled Los Angeles chef, once celebrated, now in a rut, who has to take a road trip in a food truck to find his soul, and his food, again.
Carl Casper’s big night at the swank Galouise eatery is ruined by the passive-aggressive owner of the joint.
“Be an artist on your own time,” Riva (Dustin Hoffman) whines. Stick to “your greatest hits” menu.
Carl gets the bad review from the cranky online food critic (Oliver Platt). Carl’s kid (Emjay Anthony) introduces him to Twitter and Carl insults the guy.
That leads to a flame war and that, in turn, leads to Carl’s meltdown in the restaurant. He’s out of a job and infamous, thanks to the viral video of his hissy fit.
It’s time to take stock, to find what made him passionate about food, to remind himself that he can “touch people’s lives” with his cooking. It’s time to go to Miami and crank up a food truck.
“Chef” has adorable, PG-13-worthy father-son bonding, with Favreau really clicking with the kid. It has a wonderful supporting cast, with John Leguizamo and Bobby Cannavale, Scarlett Johansson, Sofia Vergara and Robert Downey Jr.
DIRECTED BY: Jon Favreau
STARRING: Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo, Emjay Anthony, Scarlett Johansson, Bobby Cannavale, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Downey Jr. and Oliver Platt
RATED: R GRADE: B
RUNNING TIME: 115 minutes
All of it comes off thanks to wonderful early scenes that establish Favreau’s comfort in the kitchen, his steady hand with a knife.
The food is mouthwatering — calamari to die for, squab, even a work-of-art grilled cheese sandwich — every one of his senses committed to getting it perfect.
The “wish fulfillment fantasy” here is the whole overlong rosy-road-to-redemption part of the movie, which tries to sell us on Carl’s utter ignorance of social media and his 10-year-old hooking him up and making him a star.