Thursday, June 19, 2014

Chef Review

Summer is a great time for movie-goers like myself as there are plenty of huge blockbusters to enjoy. However, there are always smaller films that sneak in among all the blockbusters and oftentimes I enjoy searching those smaller movies because I find a lot of gems that the casual movie-goer will overlook. Thus was the case with the movie Chef. It snuck into a few theaters back in May and caught enough traction that it has now enjoyed a small nationwide release. On the surface it seemed like surefire thing. It's Jon Favreau's little pet project as he is the writer, producer, director, and main star. The movie also stars Robert Downey Jr., Dustin Hoffman, and Scarlett Johansson. Those three alone made it seem like a home-run cast, especially because it's Favreau and RDJ teaming up for the first time since the Iron Man movies. Impossible to mess this one up, right? Uhhh... WRONG! Holy cow, I was surprised by how stupid and cliche the whole movie was.

First things first, yes the movie does star RDJ, Scarlett Jo, and Hoffman, but it also really doesn't. Those three are all shoe-horned into the movie as they only play cameos. That was the first stupid thing. The only purpose they all served was to help the marketing of the movie by having their names on the cover. That's it. RDJ and Hoffman's characters did something key to the plot, but they could've been played by anybody and I don't even know what the purpose of Scarlett Jo's character was. By the middle of this movie, all three were gone from the movie never to be seen again. So if they aren't the stars, who are? The answer to that is Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Sofia Vergara, and an 11-year-old kid named Emjay Anthony. And out of all of them, the person who did the best job in the movie was in fact Emjay Anthony. I'm not sure if that's impressive on his part or embarrassing on everyone else's part, but perhaps it's a little bit of both. On that note, I will mention that I don't put any blame on RDJ, Scarlett-Jo, or Hoffman. They did great with their cameo roles. It wasn't their fault that they weren't used much.

Onto the story. Chef tells this story of Chef Carl Casper. His marriage has failed and he isn't doing a good job of being the father to his kid, but one thing that he does have going is his job. He's head chef of a certain restaurant and is loving it. However, that all comes to a halt as a food critic comes in to his restaurant. Casper wants to impress this critic by making him a special meal, but the owner of the restaurant insists he serves him something traditional instead. This leads to a bad review from the critic that leads to Casper losing his cool and before you know it, this chef of 10 years is out of a job and is the laughing stock of the world as both the bad review and the video of him losing his cool has gone viral. The rest of the movie is about him trying to recover his reputation and repair his relationship with his family.

Sounds good enough, right? Well here's the problem. The whole story is completely absurd because of how unrealistic it is. First off, if a big name critic is coming in, why would the owner have such a big problem with his amazing chef conjuring up something special? Second, why would this one restaurant review go viral? Third, why would a chef of 10 years care so much about one poor review that he would completely flip out on twitter and again in person in front of the whole restaurant, causing him to lose his job? And this is just the first part of the movie. Throughout the whole movie things just kept happening that would never happen in a real life scenario. And it didn't all sink in until after I was driving home, but the more I thought about this, the worse it got for me. The writing was just plain awful. And being that Jon Favreau did pretty much everything when it comes to this movie, I am putting 100 percent of the blame on him. 

Thought I was done criticizing the writing? Nope. Here's another complaint. The tone and feel of this movie is that of a family-friendly film. I mean, it's a father-son movie that if played right could've been great with family audiences. But for some reason, Favreau didn't want family audiences watching this movie. He wanted this to be an adult-only movie. He does this by throwing in a ton of language that amped up the MPAA rating quite a bit. Censor the language and this movie is PG. Nothing else wrong with it. I just don't understand why this happened.

Sadly this movie had potential. It's labeled as a comedy and I will admit that there were plenty of moments that entertained me and made me laugh. The acting was fine by everyone but Favreau. The movie was shot well and I was mildly entertained and hungered by the food sequences, even though it did feel like I was watching the food channel for part of it as opposed to a movie. And the general idea of a father-son movie where the father loses his job and has to learn how to be a better father can be really good. But the writing was just so awful that when all was said and done, all moments where I was actually entertained were completely overshadowed by that awful writing. 

The ironic thing about this is the whole movie is centered around a bad review given to Jon Favreau and I respond to that by giving Jon Favreau a bad review. Now I am just waiting for Favreau to march into my apartment and start throwing food in my face and yell at me about how awesome he thinks his little pet project is. That would actually be rather epic. Bring it on Favreau! If I did a 5-star rating system, I would give you 2/5 stars just like the critic gave your restaurant in the movie. As is, I do an /10 system and for me that translates into a 6/10. I know that mathematically doesn't work out, but it makes perfect sense to me, but now is not the time to explain to you my system. Ask me personally if you want to know. 

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