Let me start by saying this is a great film.
Jon Favreau has this unique ability to write, act and direct in films seamlessly. He does so once again in "Chef."
On the surface, it's a film about a chef who is creatively limited by a profit-hungry boss (nicely played by Dustin Hoffman). However, this film is really about our search for deeper meaning, happiness, meaningful relationships, creative freedom and what we do in the midst of that journey. In short, it's a story about each of us. This is clearly Favreau's specialty.
I must admit that the only skepticism I had beforehand was the chef theme. This film is taking full advantage of the whole "foodie" and social media craze, but I must say Favreau handles it beautifully. One of my favorite scenes (of many) is the one where Favreau's character is making a grilled cheese sandwich for his young son. So nicely done. In fact, all of the cooking scenes are delightful and play crucial roles in making this film so satisfying.
I'm so tempted to reveal more, but I won't. Suffice it to say that the supporting cast is warm, lovely and funny. Sofia Vergara is radiant, Scarlett Johansson continues to stretch her range, John Leguizamo is funny and reliable and Bobby Cannavale remains an underrated actor who can disappear in roles, as he does here. Plus, it's nice to see the transformation in Oliver Platt's role.
Also, Robert Downey Jr. gives us a funny, quick scene, Amy Sedaris absolutely kills her cameo as Vergara's publicist. If you've ever dealt with a publicist, you'll be rolling on the floor when you see her. Also, the soundtrack of the film is great and at one point, a little inappropriate yet perfect. Finally, little Emjay Anthony is absolutely charming as Favreau's son ... which brings me to my final point ...
"Chef" is playing while a plethora of shoot 'em up, blast 'em up, blockbuster films are either already in theaters or on the horizon. Given the "Ironman" films (which I love), Favreau is no stranger to this genre. In fact, you could strongly argue that as a director, Favreau has advanced the genre that mainly appeals to 13-year-old boys.
However, I believe that THIS is the film that 13-year-old boys actually NEED to see. The father-son relationship at the heart of this story is so warm and refreshing without being sappy.
I strongly recommend that dads actually take their sons to see "Chef." It's a nice supplement to "Ironman" viewing because after everything is blown up and all of the bad guys are annihilated, what 13-year-old boys truly need are caring fathers who can prepare them for the storms of life.
Favreau clearly knows that.