Review by Daniel Burden
I love the big summer event movies. They’re loud, full of explosions, bombastic, switch your brain off
fun. We’ve had a few already this year, and I can’t wait for the next Transformers. Dinobots? On the
big screen? Things go bang? I’m there on opening night.
However, it doesn’t hurt to slow down. And considering Jon Favreau last two films were Iron Man
2 and Cowboys & Aliens, big casts, big budgets and big explosions, to see him go back to something
simpler and more personal is a genuine joy to behold. It’s easy to forget that’s he’s one of the most
talented actor/directors in the business, and Chef shows off everything he has to offer.
We’re not quite in Swingers territory here, there’s nothing hugely revolutionary about Chef, but what
we get is a near perfect feel good movie.
In front of the camera Favreau plays the titular chef Carl Casper, a talented but creatively frustrated
head chef at a restaurant run by Dustin Hoffman (who is just one of the hugely famous supporting
cast), and after a bad review from a critic, he engages in a Twitter war and becomes a viral celebrity.
This doesn’t go well for the unprepared Casper, and he soon finds himself out of a job and at a loose
end, essentially working as a nanny for his own son, who he barely has a relationship with. What
Favreau has to say about social media is all spot on, how quickly the public can turn on you, and also
what a wonderful tool it can be, even if it is a little on the nose. You get the feeling this aspect, and
the movie in general, are a reaction from Favreau in regards to his own poor reviews.
The second half is very much a road movie, when Casper, along with his son, and best friend played
with a delightful energy by John Leguizamo, after buying a van and selling Cuban sandwiches across
It’s not a premise that immediately screams “Watch Me!” But it totally works. And the food! I
guarantee this movie will make you hungry, I was sitting salivating in my seat. This is the best movie
about cooking and food that I have ever seen. Not that I’ve seen all that many.
The supporting cast include, the aforementioned Dustin Hoffman, Sofia Vegara, Oliver Platt, Scarlett
Johansson and a near movie stealing cameo from Robert Downey Jr. But this is Jon Favreau’s movie.
He’s the heart at the centre of the whole thing, a career best performance in terms of acting and
directing. His character goes through a transformation in this movie, and in way so does Favreau,
he’s no longer the man who struggle through Iron Man 2 and was clearly disinterested Cowboys &
Aliens, Chef is a deeply personal film and it shows.
So you can go and see giant robots fighting, or giant monsters fighting, or giant robots fighting giant
robots. Or, why not catch Chef. It’s genuinely funny and heartwarming, chocked full of wonderful
performances from a hugely talented cast.
This is the kind of movie I want Jon Favreau to keep making, he may have brought the Marvel
cinematic universe to life, but this smaller stuff, a movie about people, relationships (and gorgeous
food you can almost taste) is his best work.
More of this please Jon!
Chef hits UK screens on 25th of June..