Cyclone Rewind: ‘Chef’

Dalton Gackle

“Chef” is an artfully crafted back-to-basics film in the wake of large-production and big-budget films.

“Chef” and other films like it tend to focus on the simple problems and intricate details of life. They avoid feeling cliché, as many big-budget films do, but rather feel genuine and honest. These films are often independent productions, as “Chef” is.

These films keep the film industry honest and keep us as viewers honest. They keep the industry from overproducing everything and keep us from being brainwashed with the same hackneyed plots and characters.

“Chef” almost satirizes the film industry in this way by using the restaurant industry as a model.

A successful and creative chef named Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) is stuck in a well-liked restaurant cooking the same food over and over again. The food is good and people love it, but he did not become a chef just to satisfy others. He did it because he loves food and food is a way to touch and move others.

Sounds a lot like the film industry to me.

Carl’s boss (Dennis Hoffman) gives him an ultimatum: stick with the same menu or get lost. So he gets lost — in his food.

Carl opens up a food truck and cooks the food that he began with. The food truck revitalizes his career as a chef and as a father. He gets back to making the food he wants and loves, and the truck gives him a way to bond with his son Percy (Emjay Anthony). He begins to teach his son about having passion for something and working at it.

Much to Carl’s surprise, Percy not only gets the hang of cooking, but he markets the food truck, El Jefe, attracting flocks of customers.

The story is simple yet engaging. It was written by Favreau, who also acted in the main role and directed the film.

Not only did the story flow well, but the cinematography made me feel like I was watching a family video from a vacation, like I had experienced the story myself and was re-watching it.

Favreau did a fine job directing the film as he has done on those aforementioned big-budget films. “Elf” (my favorite Favreau film), “Iron Man” and “Iron Man 2” are just some of those works. They were good films, but the Iron Man movies have the sense of overproduction that comes with big budgets. Favreau was also the producer for “The Avengers” and “Iron Man 3”.

“Chef” also had excellent acting.

Favreau himself is a very good actor. He is known for his supporting roles in “Rudy,” “Couples Retreat” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.” He used his experience as a busy father in the film and drew on his directorial profession to explore the getting back-to-roots theme that the film portrays.

Anthony played the 10-year-old boy trying to bond with his father very well. It probably helped that he was actually 10. He impressed Favreau, presumably leading to Favreau casting him as Gray in a live-action and CGI reboot of “The Jungle Book”, which Favreau will direct.

Sofia Vergara put on the best performance I have seen from her — in movies certainly. She played a mother just as she does on “Modern Family”, but with the silliness left out.

John Leguizamo played Carl’s best friend and fellow chef. He is an underrated actor most known for voicing Sid in the “Ice Age” franchise. He also played his role very well.

“Chef” was impressive and I felt good after seeing it. It reminded me of one of my favorite current movies, “The Way Way Back.” “Chef” was an honest and healthy watch.