Its hard not to walk out of Jon Favreau’s latest film CHEF seeing just how seasoned, much like the food in the film, he has become over his career. Whether you are passionate about food, great storytelling, characters you can fall in love with, or just a great laugh with a little heart Chef has the perfect pairing of ingredients in a film.
I first fell in love with Favreau the instant I saw SWINGERS, a cult classic, for the first time back in 1996 because well… he was just so money he didn’t even know it. (If you didn’t see the film, you won’t get it and we may not be able to be friends). Watching Trent and Mike going through the motions, getting over love, bonding with their boys, and growing up ever so slightly in SWINGERS felt much like hanging out with my best friends. Watching it a million times through the years each time appreciating something different whether it was enjoying the laughs, relearning the unwritten rules of dating or reliving my move to LA and all the wannabe actors faking it until they make it. There is a love and relatability with these guys that has withstood the test of time. As I followed Favreau’s career and twitter feed I have enjoyed watching him rise to success and the love for his craft grow.
When I first learned of Favreau’s passion project CHEF I was instantly excited. This wasn’t a huge blockbuster like IRON MAN, it didn’t have the budget or the backing but it had the passion that is Jon Favreau. I followed as he posted pictures and videos of him learning how to cook and enjoyed watching just how truly excited he was about his next endeavor. There is really nothing better in life than seeing someone light up because they are doing something they love and really believe in and you saw just that in every picture or video he posted.
CHEF is the story of Carl Casper a chef who loses his job because he refuses to conform to a boring menu and yearns to get his creative juices flowing in the kitchen. With the help of his best friend, his son and his ex-wife he heads back to Miami, the place where it all started, and sets his sight on opening a food truck. Starting from scratch.
Inspired by his own Twitter Screw ups Favreau uses twitter and social media in the film much like the answering machine in SWINGERS, it becomes an integral part in his storytelling. Not only is it done in a brilliant and effective way it is also so amazing how he touches on so many important issues, the positive and the negative, with social media even taking a jab at critics and bloggers without it ever feeling forced.
With an amazing cast of co-stars like Bobby Cannavale, John Leguizamo, Dustin Hoffman, Sofia Vergara, Oliver Platt, Dustin Hoffman, and IRON MAN buddies Robert Downey Jr and Scarlett Johansson the movie never falls flat. But it is Emjay Anthony who stars as Percy, Carl’s son, that will not only steal you heart but also the screen. There is not a moment in the film when he is on the screen that you are not completely sucked in.
From the stunning shots of food, to the great writing, from the heartfelt moments to the hysterical banter this film is much more than just a good time. Walking away from the film I can’t help but look at CHEF as Favreau’s very own, starting from scratch, food truck moving away from the glossy big budget monster films to the smaller perfect passion project’s like SWINGERS where it all started for him. Seeing him grow from the kid in his 20’s learning about life to the man in his 40’s reconnecting with what’s important in life, all while defining himself. Seeing the connection between the chef that won’t conform to the director adamant about his work, both in the end questioning every move and the decision they make based on the people that consume their product because in the end that is all that matters. When you are really passionate about what you do it becomes about other people’s enjoyment, you live to please them, to give them what they want. When they don’t like what you are serving you suddenly question everything you have ever done. I for one can’t wait to see what he serves us up next because so far every course has been perfection.
One word of advice, don’t go into the theatre hungry, you will leave starving!