Chef (2014)
November 2, 2014 9:54 AM - Subscribe

A chef who loses his restaurant job starts up a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative promise, while piecing back together his estranged family.
posted by mathowie (15 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I talked to friends (some that were in the food industry) about this movie after recently watching it, but for the most part they didn't like it, due to the marketing. I guess this was spun as a "food" movie on the order of "Big Night" but instead it's about a father connecting with this son on a road trip as they build a new business together. They felt scammed in a way and hated "the mushy stuff" instead of seeing the camera in a real working kitchen.

I didn't know much about this film going in, other than I heard it got good reviews. I'd only seen the trailer once so I didn't go in expecting it to be about food. I really enjoyed the film and especially the father-son interaction, which is rarely done well in short movies. I felt like the writing of the film was clearly a step above the norm as the characters are shown building up a relationship slowly, and developing over time. It didn't feel like every other stock family coming together movie where people just magically start being nicer to each other.

About the only things I didn't like about the movie was the weird "getting back with his ex-wife" plot point that felt a bit tacked-on at the end, and the weird way Favreau's character reacted to his ex-wife sleeping with someone while separated (Robert Downey Jr's cameo was too short but still amazing).
posted by mathowie at 10:13 AM on November 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

My wife and I watched this the other month based on the reviews and we were pretty disappointed. The fact that there is basically no conflict in the second half of the movie could have been a ballsy disregard for movie-making convention; instead it was just boring, feeling like the slowest victory lap ever.

It probably didn't help that 1) I couldn't get out of my head that Favreau was doing a Louis CK impression the entire movie, and 2) it felt like around 15 minutes of the movie was blatant Twitter product placement (I couldn't believe that apparently they didn't sponsor it).

It did get good reviews overall so obviously my opinion is the minority!
posted by dfan at 12:17 PM on November 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

I thought it was okay. I like food, I like Jon Favreau and John Leguizamo, and I found the movie entertaining. I did make the mistake, though, of going to see it straight from work without eating first. At one point in the movie a lid was taken off a smoker to reveal the most succulent brisket and I groaned out loud.
posted by essexjan at 2:27 PM on November 2, 2014

Yeah, the food cinematography was superb.
posted by dfan at 2:40 PM on November 2, 2014

This was my favorite movie of 2014 so far. I went to Boyhood thinking I was going to love the long unwinding of the story and the way the characters interrelated, and I did enjoy it, but in the end it was the father/son relationship in Chef rather than Boyhood that seemed really genuine and truly moved me.

I really appreciated the way Favreau's character fucked up at the restaurant and with new media and embarrassed himself -- when knowing the whole story, he was being a little headstrong but was not a bad guy, but things got out of control. That felt very real to me.

Plus, everything with his son. The interactions with cleaning up the truck, on the road, when they get back. I loved watching that relationship grow. I've seen a lot of movies this year but this one was so heartfelt and lovely, it was my favorite.
posted by onlyconnect at 6:14 PM on November 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

The father/son bonding was decent, but I thought this movie really shone in its clear fascination with and reverence for the exotic world of "social media". I mean, the way they dug into every succulent detail of how you create a twitter; how people twitter each other; the more exotic specialties of "facebook" and "vines".... Don't mind telling you, as soon as I got home that night, I made a couple of twitters myself, just because the movie made it look so fun. *wink*;)
posted by ormondsacker at 10:27 PM on November 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

I thought this one was lots of fun, with a few problems that were excusable in the big picture. It was lovely to look at, the cast was great (the son was amazing), it was almost innovative (I know food trucks are no big deal in most cities but it's not a thing that's happened where I live at least; I've not seen a movie use social media like that before). Sure the ending was quick and tidy but at least it fit the storyline. For all Jon Favreau has done in his career, if this is what his vanity project looks like, more power to him!

posted by danabanana at 8:46 AM on November 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

Just saw it, and thought it was a sweet little movie with a great father and son story at the core. Great food visuals, a fun cast - very enjoyable. I also didn't really buy the husband and wife getting back together - they didn't allow the two to show any chemistry, if they had any - but it didn't hurt the movie.

I'd be a bit startled at the chef's lack of understanding of basic things like Twitter, except I used to work for a woman whose husband is a top-tier chef who deeply wants to be left alone to cook, and actively avoids things like social media. It's possibly slightly hindered his career, but he's just a very private and focused guy.
posted by PussKillian at 9:23 AM on November 3, 2014

Ha, funny, I was about to use the exact phrase "sweet little movie" to describe this, too. It is a bit odd in that it's almost entirely lacking in conflict. Even when you think something dramatic might happen -- oh noes! the police are busting us! -- it gets resolved right away -- "just move down the block".
posted by sevenyearlurk at 11:19 AM on November 3, 2014

Yeah, there was a moment after he and his kid talked, while they're sitting on top of the food truck in Austin, and my husband said, "Well, something really bad is going to happen now," and I said, "I don't think this is that type of movie." And it wasn't, and I'm happy it wasn't.
posted by PussKillian at 12:20 PM on November 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

I watched it cold, and and liked it. It is just a small, sweet movie, and doesn't and doesn't want to carry a lot of weight.

My only issue was with the casting. Turns out the that guy from Swingers - the one that has that hilarious scene with the answering machine, has a lot more Hollywood clout than that (turns out he is has eighteen credits as an executive producer, including the Iron Man movies and The Avengers movies, and an equal number of directing credits) and so the supporting roles are far more high powered than one would expect. It kept taking me out of the story.
posted by rtimmel at 12:51 PM on November 4, 2014

I did enjoy this, but boy did it go for the convention of having a schlubby guy pair with ludicrously hot women. I'm sure Favreau's character had his charms, but hooking him up with her off Modern Family as the wife and ScarJo as the inhumanly understanding side piece? Hrng.
posted by ominous_paws at 11:22 PM on November 7, 2014 [4 favorites]

I agree with everyone's assessment of the movie.

One thing I thought out of place was when he was in Miami and asked his wife if, "They'll like this kind of food back home?"

I was thinking, "Are you kidding me? You're based in LA! We eat all kinds of things here, it's one of the most diverse food places in the US!"

Which also made me wonder why nobody ordered his sweetbreads. There's a place called Animal in Los Angeles, and it's a fancy place that's known for organ meats and marrow and the restaurant is popular.

Oh yeah, and lots of social media, but no Yelp. Weird.
posted by FJT at 8:06 AM on December 20, 2014

my husband and i never watch moves. i was up late alone and asked for some recommendations and this one kept coming up. i ended up doing something else the other night and so we decided to watch this together this evening. i had no expectations - watched a preview, had people say they liked it - and i thought it was really endearing. the kid is great! i normally don't love favreau, but he was really good here. i loved that none of the women were cast as bitches or ball busters. i could have done without the wedding at the end, but otherwise, a+.
posted by nadawi at 6:41 PM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

On the one hand, it was a cute, sweet movie. On the other hand, I thought it was the most self-indulgent thing I've ever seen. Sure, Jon Favreau is a schlubby guy who was previously married to Sofia Vergara and it seems like he used to hook up to Scarlett Johannsen who appears to be in this movie for the sole purpose of standing around looking hot. Then Favreau throws this baby boomer tantrum about how he wants to cook His Food His Way wah wah - cool story, bro but someone else's restaurant is not really the best place to do that. Good job finding yourself and remembering what's really important though.

I realize I'm being snarky and it hit home for a lot of people. I just think, if I was Jon Favreau and I could more or less play myself in a movie, I would want to play myself in this movie. Dude gets to be with beautiful women, tell off his boss, and go on a road trip with his son, returning home where everyone tells him how brilliant he is? Sign me up.
posted by kat518 at 5:30 PM on October 23, 2015

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