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After a controlling owner (Dustin Hoffman) pushes him too far, chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) quits his position at a prestigious Los Angeles restaurant. As he tries to figure out what his next step should be, he finds himself in Miami. Carl joins forces with his ex-wife (Sofía Vergara), best friend (John Leguizamo) and son (Emjay Anthony) to launch a food-truck business, and the venture provides a chance to reignite his passion for cooking -- as well as his zest for life and love.

Genre: Comedy drama
Length: 115 min.
Rating: R
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Movie Details

Cast: Jon Favreau, Sofía Vergara, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Emjay Anthony, Robert Downey, Oliver Platt, Bobby Cannavale, Amy Sedaris
Directed by: Jon Favreau
Produced by: Sergei Bespalov, Jon Favreau

Movie Review

By Michael Phillips
Tribune Newspapers Critic
2 1/2 stars

Jon Favreau's "Chef" has one goal: to make you want to eat Cuban sandwiches twice a day for the rest of your life. Meat-eating moviegoers of all palates will have a difficult time controlling their drool, thanks to writer-director-star Favreau's close-ups of a snazzy food truck grill in action, sizzling, sizzling away, the ham looking like heaven, to say nothing of the bread and the pickles.

Then, just when things have dried up in the region of your chin, Favreau presents a sequence in New Orleans wherein the father and son at the center of the story embark on a search for beignets. It's like torture, this movie. I ordered out three times during the first hour of "Chef," and they hadn't even gotten to the food truck scenes yet.

"Chef" is an hour's worth of story, rolled out, flat, to cover a two-hour running time. After a cellphone video of a flaming argument with a sour restaurant critic (Oliver Platt) goes viral, the frustrated high-end LA chef played by Favreau loses his job. Encouraged by his ex-wife (Sofia Vergara), the chef buys a battered old food truck and, in Miami, he and his preteen son (Emjay Anthony) embark on a Twitter-fueled marketing experiment: a cross-country jaunt accompanied by the chef's friend and fellow kitchen master Martin (John Leguizamo).

With this film Favreau's taking a break from being a blockbuster machine ("Iron Man" 1 and 2, "Cowboys & Aliens"). His alter ego protagonist's yearning to "go indie" feels very much like Favreau's own interest in getting back to his "Swingers"-era roots and interests.

The upside of Favreau's fame can be seen in the supporting cast; A-listers such as Robert Downey Jr. (as his ex-wife's sleazoid ex-lover) and Scarlett Johansson (as the chef's colleague and apparent sometime-squeeze) turn up in this weirdly starry personal project. Favreau's masterly light touch as an actor hasn't yet translated to a similarly deft offhandedness behind the camera. The movie, slick and shallow, is fairly entertaining anyway. And the sandwiches? Holy shiitake mushrooms, they look good.

MPAA rating: R (for language, including some suggestive references)

Running time: 1:55.

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Angelika Film Center & Cafe Mosaic

Address: 2911 District Ave., Fairfax, VA 22031 See on a Map
Telephone #: (571)-512-3301

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Address: 9650 Main St., Fairfax, VA 22031 See on a Map
Telephone #: (703)-978-6991

4:15 | 7:10


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