Fresh from the sets of Cowboys and Aliens and Iron Man, writer/director/actor Jon Favreau turns his hand to something a bit more close to home with Chef, the story of a head chef who rebels against the traditionalist restaurant he works for when it starts getting bad reviews and sets up a food truck business selling Cuban sandwiches.
It’s been called a ‘vanity project’ by several critics, but that makes it no less enjoyable since Chef is a film that’s desperately difficult to dislike. Plus, the whole film has the overt message that we should stick two fingers up at the critics and do what we want to do / give the people what they want food-wise (read film-wise).
Favreau casts himself as chef Casper, alongside celebrity favours he’s called in – Scarlett Johansson, Sofia Vergara, Robert Downey Jr, Dustin Hoffman and Bobby Cannavale. Although there is a wealth of comedy talent in the cast, the end result doesn’t quite work, with a lot of jokes falling flat. In fact, most of the film is spent watching Favreau and his 10-year-old son make sandwiches. However, it is still sweet and charming and goes down fairly easily.
It also has a strange connection to social media (when they’re not making sandwiches they’re tweeting/vine-ing/Facebook-ing about making sandwiches) and so it seems as if Favreau feels the pressure to make a film that fits into the current climate, and could be believable. But aside from all the food porno photos, this just feels like a guide to social media for dummies.
What Favreau is trying to say about the film industry – that Hollywood keeps serving up the same predictable rubbish – he seems to fall into the same trap. Everything is tied up in a neat bow in the end and out comes the mushy story about his renewed relationship with his son and wife.
For those of you thinking that Favreau might have returned to his former indie glory days when he wrote Swingers and Made, you’ll be disappointed, but by lowering your expectations there’s still an enjoyable film in there.
Chef is in UK cinemas now.