by Diana Vaccarelli
I’m a foodie and love to eat. In spite of that, or maybe because, I had no expectations when I sat down to watch the film CHEF, written and directed by IRON MAN’s Jon Favreau.
Jon Favreau not only wrote and directed this film but also stars as Carl Casper, a highly regarded chef at a prestigious L.A. Restaurant, who quits his job to escape his controlling employer,. Finding himself in Miami, Carl teams up with his ex-wife, an old friend, and his son to open a food truck. As the truck takes to the road, Carl finds himself back at his roots.
As much as this film is about food it is more about family, with food the link between family members. Carl and the others have long been estranged, and toiling on the truck not only returns Carl to his roots, reminding him of why he loved being a chef in the first place, it also brings father and son back together.
The cast of CHEF is stellar. In addition to Favreau, we are treated to John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Sofia Vergara, Oliver Platt, Amy Sedaris, and even Robert Downey Jr.
But it isn’t Jon Favreau’s contacts list that makes this film so enjoyable. It’s the script he has given the actors to work with. Favreau has written a screenplay filled with fully formed characters and witty and fun dialogue as well as with dramatic elements, an amalgam that I found a very pleasant surprise. I enjoyed how the story returned the protagonist to his roots so he could heal and grow, and how Favreau used food and its preparation as the way for Carl and his son to reconnect. This too was a surprise.
All in all, I simply hadn’t expected this kind of storytelling from the man who wrote and directed IRON MAN. It is great to see Favreau return to his independent film roots and be so thoroughly at home – and in control.
If you enjoy feeling a strong tug at your heartstrings, CHEF is for you.