Film review: Chef

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Culinary masterpieces & Twitter missteps

 

Rarely is popcorn unsatisfying when watching a movie. But with the impressive array of culinary treats on display in “Chef,” starring, written and directed by Jon Favreau, popcorn just doesn’t hit the spot.

When we join Carl (Favreau), he is head chef of a restaurant owned by Riva (Dustin Hoffman). Carl’s culinary creativity has been stamped out by Riva’s demand for tradition. After their opposing views come to a head, Carl sets out on his own to rediscover his culinary passion.

The sensuality of the food alone could earn this film a high rating. Every shot in the movie is delectable. Each frame is richly coloured, allowing the plates to pop on screen.

The rich, layered sounds compliment the food scenes. Favreau was not afraid to linger over sizzling pans of bacon, a bubbling grilled cheese sandwich or donuts crackling in oil. Audience members should thank him for it right before they run to satisfy the cravings those shots create.

What appears to be a movie about cuisine quickly turns into a lesson in social media. After a negative review of Carl hits the Internet, he joins Twitter to read comments about him before slinging back some commentary of his own.

Before Carl knows it, a video of an outburst against a critic has gone viral and he is confronted by the instantaneous nature of social networking. Although current, relying on the Internet for the plot feels hokey. Thankfully, Twitter soon hands the spotlight to Carl and the people around him.

While struggling to reclaim himself as a chef, Carl begins to invest more time in his preteen son, Percy (Emjay Anthony). “Chef” shows a father’s redemption the right way. Carl doesn’t make it up to Percy by finally appearing at some big game or by accepting an unconventional hobby. Instead, the movie follows a gradual, realistic process of a father discovering common ground with his son at what he describes as an “awkward age.” Carl shares his guarded love for the kitchen with Percy, with only the occasional misstep on either side.

Despite the casting of celebrity co-stars like Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr., Jon Favreau doesn’t have to fight for audience attention. The big names guide Favreau through his self-discovery as supporting characters, all without overpowering the screen. Carl is believable and relatable as he integrates his professional and personal lives.

“Chef” is a feel-good film with a delicious flare to it and worth checking out.