|Plenty o' FOOD PORN & all-star cast!|
Mega-Masturbation Material 4 Foodies!
Dir. Jon Favreau
Starring: Jon Favreau, Sofía Vergara, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Oliver Platt, Bobby Cannavale, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Downey, Jr.
Review By Greg Klymkiw
There's plenty of food porn on display here. Why shouldn't there be? The movie is called Chef, after all, and it's a foodie's wet-dream come true. In fact, anyone who loves Jon Favreau and food, should pretty much be in Hog Heaven because believe me, the film's trough is overflowing with the amiable writer-director-star as cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau focuses his nimble camera and exquisite lighting upon the preparation of one taste-tempting dish after another. Oh, and there's even a plot - not much of one, but plot enough to include mega-food-porn set pieces and provide a Buffet Table full of stars in supporting roles and even a few laughs. Favreau plays Carl Casper, head chef of a tony Cali resto owned by Riva (Dustin Hoffman) who insists Carl stick to the same menu that's been drawing in the patrons for years. Carl, however, is getting restless with the same old thing so he begins to experiment with an array of new dishes (mega-food-porn here, foodies).
Word gets out that Carl's prepping a major gastronomic revolution which catches the attention of the powerful food critic Ramsey Michel (a perfectly slimy, funny Oliver Platt). On the night Ramsey is planning a visit, the prissy Riva demands, with job-loss threats to the whole kitchen team, that Carl revert to the tried and true menu. Our hero has no choice. Ramsey shows up and is immediately appalled with the menu that's stayed the same. He files a scathing review and from here on in, this means war.
Eventually, Carl faces a crisis of conscience and realizes he needs to strike out on his own if he's ever to be able to exercise his true art, his true passions. The resulting transformation is hard-won, but results in a predictably happy ending.
Favreau is just fine. So's the food porn. Hoffman, Platt and Robert Downey Jr. all offer up supremely entertaining extended cameos. Alas, the movie does fall back on some tiresome cliches involving Carl's ex-wife and neglected son and worst of all, a complete snore of a subplot involving the restaurant's hostess played by the supremely, annoyingly ubiquitous Scarlett Johansson. Is this woman ever going to go away?
Still and all, Chef is not without some merit for those so inclined and offers up a competent enough entertainment for less discriminating audiences.
THE FILM CORNER RATING: **½ Two-and-a-half Stars (Movie), *** Three Stars (Blu-Ray Package)
Chef is available on a Blu-Ray/DVD multi-format package via VVS Films and this is where it really shines - for foodies (especially) and non-foodies alike. There are the usual added bits like deleted scenes, but what soars is the commentary track which, even if you don't care for the movie, offers up mega-added-value as it's a terrific conversation twixt Favreau and producer, pro chef Roy Choi. Favreau delivers the goods on the filmmaking process and he and Choi wax eloquent and in detail on the food preparation.
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