Granted, there is nothing groundbreaking in Jon Favreau's Chef. It's not a film that will go in any surprising direction midway through. There are no twists or turns to be had here. There is nothing new or fresh. The film pretty much goes along just the way you would expect it to go along - and ends just the way you would expect as well. That being said, what Favreau's new film is, is a solid dramedy that is thoroughly enjoyable, even while not having anything new to say about the medium. And even though this is certainly nothing that will make the film go down in the annals of film history, it is more than enough to make your two hours worth the time. Okay, this may not exactly be a rave of a critique, and may even mirror a bit, the review given in the film to the lead character by a local food blogger, but it is a solid, if not particularly radical review, for a solid, if not particularly radical film. So there.
As for the film itself, Chef, the writer/director/actor's ninth film in the director's chair (going back to his indie roots, after being the big man on the first two Iron Man blockbusters) is the story of, you guessed it, a chef. Favreau plays one-time wunderkind chef Carl Casper, who finds himself in a creative and emotional rut. With a wild-eyed loyal best bud (John Leguizamo), an ex-wife (Sofia Vergara) who is oh so obviously still in love, and with whom he is oh so obviously still in love, and a ten year old son (newcomer Emjay Anthony) who is expectantly upset at his parents no longer being together, Favreau's Chef must find a new creative outlet in his life, while also trying to figure out a way to re-bond with his son. Like I said, nothing surprising happens here, but the way Favreau creates his character (anyone who has ever worked in the restaurant biz, as has this critic, should find a familiar voice in this film and in this character) the film is thoroughly enjoyable, and is filled with fun moments and lots of laughs.
Other than the strong and solid lead performance by Favreau, and a bright debut by young Master Anthony, the film also showcases fun smaller performances from Bobby Cannavale, Amy Sedaris, Oliver Platt, Dustin Hoffman, and Scarlett Johansson, but the stand-out cameo in the film comes from Favreau's old Iron Man pal, Robert Downey, Jr., showing once again why the actor should be in every movie made. But fun cameo appearances aside (and seriously, Downey's few minutes onscreen are a freakin' delight) Chef is held together by the performance of Favreau, and the actor's charming everyman persona onscreen. The film also has one hell of a soundtrack, mostly consisting of latin-themed music, fitting in with the Latin-theme of the film, as well as with cover art by the aforementioned Mr. Downey, Jr. (who's artwork can also be seen on the film's poster). Yeah, so as I stated in my opening salvo, Chef is nothing groundbreaking, nor is it something that will surprise anyone who has ever seen a movie before (well written but definitely on the by-the-bookish side of things), but it is still a refreshing and honest look at the regular side of life - and that's good enough for me. That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.