Friday, May 16, 2014

"Chef" a Tasty Treat


“Chef” a Tasty Fantasy

By Skip Sheffield

Looking for a tasty romantic comedy with a soupcon of sentiment?
Look no further than “Chef,” a delightful concoction written, directed and starring Jon Favreau.
Favreau is best-known as the director of the invincible warrior saga “Iron Man.” Carl Casper, the title character of “Chef,” is anything but invincible. We meet him lording over his subordinates in a fancy Beverly Hills restaurant. Everything must be done his way.
Favreau has an A-list of Hollywood friends. The subordinates are played by John Leguizamo (Martin) and Bobby Cannavale (Tony). Riva, the restaurant’s owner, is played by Dustin Hoffman. The restaurant’s hostess is played by Scarlett Johansson in what amounts to a walk-on role.
Riva is uptight because a notorious restaurant critic is coming to dine and pass judgment. The critic is played by Oliver Platt with a convincing air of disdain.
Riva wants Carl to play it safe and stick to a conventional French menu. Grudgingly Carl does, and he pays for it big time when a scathing, insulting review results. Instead of making nice with the critic, Carl makes matters worse. After a big blowup he quits.
Since this is an A-list Hollywood fantasy, Carl’s ex-wife girlfriend Inez is played by Sofia Vergara. Need I say more?
Inez lives in a mansion thanks to the generous alimony from her ex-husband Marvin, played by Robert Downey, Jr. Carl shares joint custody of a really cute little boy named Percy (Emjay Anthony).
The action shifts to Miami Beach, where Marvin lives. It is there Carl gets the inspiration to buy a used food truck, refurbish it, and drive it cross-country to Los Angeles. Can you say road trip? It allows for scenic footage along the way, including the Everglades, New Orleans and Austin, Texas.
Plausibility is not the strong suit of “Chef,” but when has that ever gotten in the way of a fantasy?

“Chef” is an unabashed feel-good movie with beautiful people and gorgeous settings. I tip my toque to Jon Favreau. Bon appitit.

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