After a talented Los Angeles chef (Jon Favreau) leaves his resteraunt job, following a public, heated argument with a food critic (Oliver Platt), he starts up a food truck; travelling around the country, he regains his zest for life and spends time with his 10 year old son, with whom he has been quite distant from in the past.
Obviously the main theme of Chef is food and this film is certainly a love letter to all things culinary. Food is presented so passionately and the sharp editing and bright colours definitely bring the food to life, much in the same way that Ratatouille did (though perhaps not quite as effectively!) It is laudable to see Favreau’s passion shining through and this warm feeling makes Chef so endearing.
A noteworthy aspect of this film is its inclusion of social media, which plays a large, important role. By heavily utilising such sites as Twitter and Vine, the film is given a modern, contemporary feel and this blends quite well with the otherwise straightforward storyline and recognisable, worldly themes. The associated effects, the tweets appearing on screen and then “flying away”, are used very well and greatly enhance the viewing experience.
The film also has an upbeat, Latin-American infused soundtrack and this helps greatly in keeping the film light, fun and breezy. It is a perfect accompaniment to all the onscreen food images and it gives the film a zesty, exciting vibe.
There is great chemistry to be found among the cast, John Leguizamo and Bobby Cannavale provide excellent, endearing comic relief and Favreau himself is an affable, sympathetic lead. Plus, Emjay Anthony, the leading child actor is bearable, which is obviously refreshing to see!
Oh, and RDJ is in it. Of course!
It’s not perfect though, as the central story of a father reconnecting with his son seems quite tried and tested. Watching this film, you essentially know exactly what is going to happen and it all leads to a typical happy ending. The first half of the film, which is more or less focused on the strained father/son relationship, is good enough but it is only when the food truck is introduced that Chef really gets going.
Ultimately, Chef provides a pleasant viewing experience even though the story is pretty basic and familiar.
A colourful, fun, contemporary feel-good film with tasty visuals and an upbeat soundtrack.
★ ★ ★ ★