Thursday, May 1, 2014

Chef {Rhoades)

Advance Screening of Jon Favreau’s “Chef”

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

If it weren’t so good, you’d say it's a vanity project. After all “Chef” is a movie written by Jon Favreau, directed by Jon Favreau, and starring Jon Favreau. BTW, he produced it too.

You get to do projects like that when you’ve directed two “Iron Man” blockbusters that grossed well over $1 billion.

But here he’s thinking more like “Iron Chef.” It’s the story of a chef in a fancy LA restaurant (played by Favreau) who quit after his boss (Dustin Hoffman) insists he cook a special menu for a visiting food critic (Oliver Platt). After all, Chef Carl Casper has his creative integrity to protect and he’s not going to serve dishes he doesn’t believe in.

So he winds up heading back to Miami, the hometown where his son and ex-wife (Sofia Vergara) live, hoping to reinvent himself. With the help of his pal (John Leguizamo) he buys a take-out taco truck that he intends to drive back to LA, selling his spicy delectables along the way.

Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson show up for cameos in “Chef” too. But if you’ve directed them in “Iron Man 2” they’re likely to do you a favor.

“Chef” -- showing next Tuesday night at the Tropic Cinema -- is another advance screening in the New York Film Critics series, one-night-only live simulcasts in HD, with Rolling Stone film critic Peter Travers interviewing Favreau and others from a stage in NYC. Audiences in participating theaters around the country can text questions to be answered by Favreau after the showing of the movie.

For instant, you might ask why he chose to do this little dramedy instead of “Iron Man 4 or 5.” His answer might be: “With most movies you get to make, especially the big ones, you're dealing with a much younger audience and usually escapism. I wanted to make something about the lessons of life and about reality, not something that takes you out of it.”

Or he might be more candid: “A script hit me, and I wrote it in like two weeks. That was the first time that had happened to me since ‘Swingers.’ I'm not the type that can just write something from nothing once a year. It has to land on me fully formed. It all clicked.”

And he had the clout to do it.

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