Why does the word ‘nice’ suddenly have negative connotations? Every now and then you come across a film amongst all the blockbusters, Oscars-bait and buddy comedies and uncover a little gem which is, quite simply, nice. And there ain’t nothing wrong with that!
Writer-director-producer Jon Favreau stars as Carl, the titular chef. After following his boss’ orders rather than his own heart, and pissing off a big-time critic in the process, he decides to go it alone with his own food truck. Meanwhile, he’s seeing his son less and less and missing his wife, who he has recently separated from, and everything seems to be riding on this move becoming a success.
I didn’t have many expectations of Chef going into it. The premise wouldn’t have appealed to me were it not for the cast (Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr co-star) – so I guess there is still such a thing as ‘star power’. Jon Favreau did a great job directing Iron Man 1 and 2 and Swingers earned him semi-cult status for his screenplay, so I was intrigued to see how this film panned out. And it turned out to be one of my most pleasant film experiences of the year so far!
Favreau’s chemistry with Emjay Anthony (his on-screen son) was perfect. They had the distant and disappointed relationship down at the start of the film and it developed so perfectly that it really warmed the old cockles towards the end. Likewise the buddy relationship with John Leguizamo – you’d think the pair had been friends for years.
The social media sidebar of the film appealed to the nerd in me too. As someone whose day job relies an awful lot on the power of social media, it was interesting to see it worked into a plot where a new business’ success depended on virtual word of mouth. In fact, I’d recommend this film as a tutorial in making it work for you!
Sure, Chef is predictable, a tad cheesy and overly sentimental at times but don’t we watch films to be moved and entertained? This charmer definitely does that!