Movie With a Heart of Gold
Well tonight I went to see Jon Favreau’s latest project, Chef, not to be confused with the short lived Lenny Henry sitcom. Favreau plays the chef in question (Carl Casper) who is working his you know whats off for restaurant owner Riva (Dustin Hoffman). It’s a popular place in Los Angeles and its making money but he has been doing the same menu for years. It all comes to a head when the number one food blogger in town Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt) comes to review the restaurant. Following a bad review a confrontation between the two men goes viral on the Internet.
The rest of the tale basically follows Casper trying to rebuild his career and family life as he has become estranged from his son in particular. I loved the sound track to this movie. It begins with a heavy reggae influence with a bit of soul thrown in. As the action moves to Florida the Cuban beats take over before a more bluesy feel returns towards the end. Favreau is a strong screen presence and it was nice to see him in front of, as opposed to behind, the camera. He forms a dynamic duo with fellow chef Martin (John Leguizamo) who joins him on his journey (yes I used the J word) from his former LA establishment.
The movie is predominantly a mix of buddy movie and road trip rolled into one and it is the road trip to redemption that is its biggest strength. Social media plays a big part in the story and gives it a very modern feel. The movie is somewhat let down by Casper’s relationship with his ex-wife Inez (Sofia Gara) as it is totally unbelievable. There is a running joke in Hollywood about actors who write/produce their own projects surrounding themselves with beautiful women and there is some of that going on here. In addition to the frankly stunning Gara, Scarlett Johansson plays the head of front of house Molly with whom Casper may or may not have had a relationship.
The ending is sudden and a bolt out of the blue which is sad given the joy of the rest of the movie. Overall these are minor flaws in what is a good, warm hearted, feel good albeit slightly predictable movie.