After the big budget success of the Iron Man franchise, Jon Favreau follows up with Chef; a smaller, more personal project which in many ways feels like a companion piece to his earlier work, Swingers. A light and breezy story of professional Chef enjoying commercial success but afflicted with a critical malaise, Favreau, who wrote the script and stars, has clearly distilled a lot of himself into the story of a Chef who quits his unfulfilling job in order to run a food truck and rediscover his culinary modus operandi.
The two important moments in the movie see Favreau, firstly, deliver a blistering tirade against a pompous restaurant critic rebuking his inability to contribute anything other than negativity in response to his artistic endeavours; before swapping his restaurant for a mobile sandwich shop and declaring his need to reassess, concentrate on a more personal project and discover if he has anything to say anymore.
On the basis of this, cheerful but ephemeral offering, Favreau doesn’t have a great deal to say, but it’s nice to see him spending his time on material such as this rather than some of the dross (I’m thinking Four Christmases, Couples Retreat) he’s been involved with lately. Chef feels like the director’s midlife crisis equivalent to Swingers, inspired perhaps by a similar period of professional frustration. It’s all a touch self-serving, a lot of metaphorical slapping-of-backs, but the enthusiasm for the material is infectious enough and it’s clear that Favreau is enjoying himself here.
Consultant chef Roy Choi comes on-board for the director’s commentary which underlines how much personal interest Jon Favreau has in the street food scene. What’s apparent too is Favreau’s admiration for the skill and dedication of the chef as an artist; something to which you feel he aspires. Incidentally, chef Choi’s fleet of Kogi food vans are something of a local legend on the streets of LA, priding themselves on fun, simple and decidedly uncomplicated food. It’s an ethos which Jon Favreau has obviously taken to heart in this colourful if a little orthodox pet project.
Genre:Comedy Distributor:Lionsgate Films UK DVD Release Date:3rd November 2014 (UK) Rating:15Running Time:114 MinutesDirector:Jon Favreau Cast:Jon Favreau, John Leziugamo, Emjay Anthony, Sofia Vergara, Robert Downey Jr