Pssst, want to check out Chef in our new look?
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An effortlessly enjoyable, warm-hearted movie that will have you wishing you made dinner reservations for after your screening. While the plot may not offer anything unique or memorable on face value, it is much more compelling when viewed as an allegory of Favreau's experience directing blockbusters, and, as cliched and predictable as the story undeniably is, the film is so well-intentioned and earnest that you can forgive these shortcomings.
Robert Downey Jr predictably completely steals the one scene that he is involved in, offering up the film's most enjoyable comedic moment, but the real standout is Bobby Cannavale, who does a wonderful job despite not being given much to work with. Similar can be said of both female actresses, whose one-dimensional, undefined characters are unfortunately the biggest weakness of the movie. The film compensates for this with a thoroughly fleshed out trio of male leads, all of whom undergo significant and nuanced character development that can't help but remind you of 'Swingers', Favreau's first script and, until now, his only truly great one.
I wish that the film had finished five minutes earlier, because it does descend into sappy Hollywood sentimentality just a little too exuberantly towards the end, but when everything's been said and eaten you'll leave a satisfied customer.
Just entertaining enough to keep my interest above the idle line, in a very low gear. The humor is flat but pleasant, the story meandering but mildly compelling. I wish they would have laid off the technology angle a bit, it felt like overkill most of the time. Did Twitter finance this project or something?
Chef feels to me like the second part of diptych Jon Favreau started with Swingers. Where that earlier film featured a man connection with his passion through dance, Chef has an older man RE-connect with his passion for food. In both cases, Favreau captures what it means to be a certain age (his own) and does so with as charming a cast as he can put together. Chef is, in fact, full of big stars in small roles, and feels like a labor of love for all involved, friends playing together without it ever turning into indulgence. It's a quiet film, but a funny and touching one, the father-son story at its core definitely worthy. Food preparation is beautifully filmed and will make you hungry (and then disappointed by your own culinary efforts), and I love the use of social media in the film as well. Chef's story isn't formulaic, but it does feel like familiar comfort food. Favreau still manages to spice things up with surprising casting, improvised scenes and the script's techno-savvy. #Foodpuns
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