I saw Chef with Jon Favreau and it is sweet but seriously distracting. The distraction comes from the fact that it’s You’ve Got Mail mashed with Food Network, sponsored by Twitter, and made by a guy that is well-respected by famous people.
The main plot involves hotshot chef (Favreau) in a rut and not allowed out of said rut by the restaurant owner (Dustin Hoffman) and, so, he turns to a food truck to get his creativity back. Oh yes, this thing is LITTERED with famous people. Besides Hoffman, there’s Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Amy Sedaris, and Oliver Platt scattered around, which is only slightly distracting. The movie is light enough that it just feels… supportive.
Favreau’s character is divorced with a young son and the first quarter of the movie sets up what a mediocre job he’s doing as a father. He does once a week divorced dad activities, like movies and lunch and amusement parks, without any real connection with the kid. The kid just wants to hang out. There’s your message, by the way. What I call “b-plot.” Don’t spend $140 hanging with the kid…just hang with the kid.
There’s a SMALL amount of “meet the ex-wife” and then it’s off to Miami to get the food truck. Some funny snark with the ex-father-in-law, then it’s time for the road trip.
Favreau, his former sous chef, John Leguizamo (who is great), and the kid (who is great), drive the truck from Miami to Los Angeles. It’s an advertisement for Twitter, the Food Network’s sanctioned restaurants, and food trucks everywhere. The truck scenes are the best part of the movie. It’s, again, super light, but full of father/son quantity time, creating quality time. There’s some nice men-sitting-around-in-a-car moments and there’s a good work ethic.
This movie may or may not make its money back (and if not, I’m sure it was underwritten by Twitter). It felt like it was fun to make and I will have a lovely time re-watching it, one night, on TBS.