Review of Chef

Posted by on Jul 29, 2014 in Movie Reviews | 0 comments

Chef_2014

Chef didn’t get a lot of hype, and I can’t figure out why. It’s the kind of movie that leaves you feeling good afterward, as if sometimes everything works out just how it should. Let me be clear: the plot is eminently predictable, and there are no explosions or twist ending. Chef is very simply a heart-warming movie about a man trying to figure out what to do with his life after a mistake threatens his chosen career. There are some spoilers ahead, but as I hinted to earlier, it isn’t anything you would haven’t figured out way before it happens.

Jon Favreau plays Carl Casper, the eponymous chef. He’s a bit of a Luddite, and gets caught up in a Twitter battle without really understanding the ramifications. After a rather public meltdown in response to a bad review, Carl’s career is in trouble. No one wants to hire him. He also has his fair share of family trouble: his son is desperate for his attention, but Carl keeps him at a distance. His ex-wife eventually asks him to come along to Miami, where they met, to take care of their son while she’s working in the area. She also talks him into taking on a food truck, something she’s been pushing him to do for years.

Basically, it’s your textbook mid-life crisis. I told you, there’s nothing surprising here plot-wise. I know what you’re thinking now: this doesn’t sound like a movie you need to see, but trust me, it really is.

There are a few things that make this movie absolutely stellar. Let me run them down for you.Jon_Favreau_2012

First, the Cuban flare. Once Carl is in Miami, the mood of the movie changes entirely. There’s a Latin soundtrack that underscores every moment. It is a beautiful homage to a culture that has given us so much in this country, but is largely ignored when it comes to mass market entertainment.

Second, the acting is first rate. I don’t just mean that the big name actors do their jobs when delivering lines, which everyone expects, but there’s also an emphasis on the quiet moments where characters really come alive. There are scenes where our trio of buddies (because this is in part a buddy movie) are just riding around in the food truck that sing with life.

Third, it’s a wonderful example of storytelling. Favreau knows how to tell a satisfying story. He presents a problem, shows the character overcoming that problem, and then gives the audience a fulfilling ending. Just like the best meals are sometimes the simplest, the same can be said for the best stories. Sometimes what I really need is a character that grows and finds himself in the cluttered confusion of our world. This movie delivers that. Yes, I saw the ending coming a mile away, but somehow it still touched me, more than any other movie in recent memory.

There’s also a bit of a lesson for every creative person out there. Carl follows his heart, and finds exactly what he was looking for in his career and his life. Don’t compromise and don’t give up on your dreams.

I leave you with the trailer, and a hearty recommendation that you see this movie.

-C

Photos from wikipedia.

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