review: chef (2014)

This was definitely a solid watch. Most definitely underrated however – I had actually never heard of it until I literally googled “2014 movies”. As an avid Food Network watcher, I was definitely intrigued by the vague, food-related title. I don’t even think I looked at the synopsis before viewing the film.

Synopsis (IMDB): A 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.

Ok so first I must comment on the cinematography of the shots of food. I definitely cannot complain about the close ups of bacon sizzling in a pan, or cheese melting in between two perfectly browning toasts. That being said, I have seen better food shots. For example – the mouthwatering shots of sushi as freshly brushed soya sauce glistens on the surface. Ugh. Yeah. Watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi for that.

The story in this was really cute! I just love food trucks and how trendy they are right now, so this story was really great in bringing that world into the entertainment industry. I also love how this film portrayed food as an art form, rather than focusing too much on the business side of things – deeming business as a sort of evil creativity blocker for new food inventions and ideas. I also enjoyed the family tie-in, and how while there was sort of a romance aspect in this, it wasn’t the driving force of this movie – a critique made too frequently on recent films, like my past review on If I Stay. Additionally, I loved the tie-in with the social media, and thought that was done really well – embedding sort of virtual screens into the shots of the real world.

The one point in this film that wasn’t quite the strongest was the casting. As the writer AND director of this film, Jon Favreau starred as the protagonist – as the chef struggling to find freedom in the industry he loves. While the concept of having the writer/director/star as the same person sometimes works – like Lena Dunham’s in Girls, I feel like Favreau’s choice to take on his own role may have been a bad choice here. I didn’t fall in love with his character the way I should have to be able to fully invest in the story. Similarly, Emjay Anthony as Favreau’s son, Percy, was cute but I didn’t buy his character either. The father-son connection just didn’t fully express itself through the screen. Lastly, I found it so jolting to see Sofia Vergara as Inez, Percy’s mother and Favreau’s ex. Her extreme looks and voice are simply too iconic has her role in Modern Family, and I couldn’t get over that.

However, I liked Scarlett Johanssen. It was nice seeing her out of the typical sensual, feisty female role that she is too frequently cast in.

So yeah, to conclude – this was a nice casual watch. Nothing mind-blowing, but good for a lazy afternoon.

just my rating: ★★★½

Other reviews on Chef:

The Lit Room – Movie Review – Chef, 2014
Life, Post Grad – Why You Should Go See ‘Chef’

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