Percy: Where are we?
Inez: This is Little Havana.
Percy: Like in Grand Theft Auto?
Director: Jon Favreau
Cast: Jon Favreau, Emjay Anthony, Sofía Vergara, John Leguizamo, Oliver Platt
Synopsis: A popular chef loses his job after having an altercation with a well-regarded food critic. He decides to return to his roots and goes on the road to make food in his hometown of Miami.
Just as the main character, Carl Casper, does in this film, director, writer and lead actor Jon Favreau leaves the pressures of blockbuster filmmaking (Iron Man 1 & 2, Cowboys and Aliens) and returns to his indie-film roots (Swingers, Made) with his latest film, Chef. The film definitely plays like a mirror to Favreau’s career as he came out fresh with 2008’s classic Marvel blockbuster Iron Man, however his films started to get stale with the 2010 sequel Iron Man 2 and the 2011 sci-fi flop Cowboys and Aliens. Pressures from the studios are represented by Restaurant Owner, Riva (played deliciously by Dustin Hoffman) who demands that instead of serving a new and interesting menu give the customers what they want despite the lack of innovation and originality. Despite Casper’s efforts the critics aren’t fans of his food and can taste the desperation to please. Just as the film critics responded to Iron Man 2 and Cowboys and Aliens.
Favreau returns to form in this delicious and charming road movie. Favreau fills the cast with excellent actors from his previous films such as Robert Downey Jr and Scarlett Johansson (both fabulous). He also uses Sophia Vergara and John Leguizamo (actors who usually annoy me) to great effect in their supporting roles. The real stand out is Emjay Anthony as Casper’s son, Percy. Percy looks up to his father and is in desperate need of some father son time. After Casper’s downfall he goes on the road with him and discovers his father’s passion for food. Although their journey is quite clichéd, Favreau and Emjay Anthony deliver excellent chemistry and are believable as father and son.
The film moves in a fast paced beat with the flavour of Favreau’s earlier films in particular 1996’s Swingers. Favreau should continue making his passion projects if they are as enjoyable as this. Also the cinematography of the food and cooking make the dishes look to die for. Do not watch this on an empty stomach all of the food in this film looks so good. An excellent film and one of the year’s best.
Rating: 4 Stars