Thursday, September 25, 2014

Chef (2014) * * *

Chef is a fun movie about food, life, and fatherhood. While I'm giving it only 3 stars, I still liked it a lot. However, it wasn't a great masterpiece, or terribly exciting. My reason for watching it twice is that it gives me a warm feeling every time I watch it.

The movie is a lot of fun. It has a fast talking chef, Carl Casper, who swears a lot, like most chefs I've seen on TV, and that's always great to watch. There are some good jokes, and the cop played by Russell Peters was a memorable comic character.
It's also about food, and being a chef. Today the trend in food is good, local ingredients, and an ever changing menu that adapts to the environment. The changing menu allows the chef a creative freedom, and also gives a chance to people to try out new things. In the movie, the opposite of this style is a menu that is always the same, which is portrayed as being stuck in the past. As someone who loves to discover new food, I like the progressive approach as well.
The food in the movie looks very good. I read that Jon Favreau, the actor portraying Carl Casper, studied cooking, and worked with Roy Choi to look authentic on screen. It turned out very well. I recommend not watching it on an empty stomach.
Chef is also about life and self-discovery. All people come across a time in their lives when they feel that they are in a rut. This is harder on creative people, who may feel uninspired and frustrated. The only thing we can do is to change, when possible. That can be hard, unless we are forced into it, or opportunity comes knocking. However, this movie is trying to show that once we finally make that leap, we will be happier for it.
Another theme in the film is fatherhood. Carl is divorced, and tries to spend as much time with his 10-year-old son as possible, but he's busy with his job. It was very nice to see that his ex-wife was supportive, and understanding. A lot of times in film we see bad divorces, but part of the good feeling this movie gives is the great relationship between Carl and his ex. The kid, played by Emjay Anthony, adopts his mother's understanding attitude, though there is a moment when he shows that he isn't perfect after all. It would be great if all divorced families could have the same relationship as they do.
I also liked how social media was portrayed. Today, if you have a business, or building a personal brand, social media is very important. In the beginning Carl isn't knowledgeable about it, and while it's part of the hilarity, it also shows that we all have to be careful about what we post online. However, while it warns us of the dangers, it also portrays the power and potential of what a Twitter account can accomplish if used well.

Overall, I recommend this movie for an after-dinner watching as a couple, or as a family. Though there is a lot of swearing, especially in the beginning, so the kids may need to be older. While this isn't mostly about food, foodies will also enjoy it. Check out the Facebook page as well, as they have recipes. Anyone for a Cubano?

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