Swanner: I love how every year there are little movies that show up and give me hope that summers are more than just superheroes, special effects, animated features and a Cameron Diaz sex comedy. Chef is that movie for me this year. Directed, written and staring Jon Favreau, the film tells the story of an L.A. chef, who gets caught in a twitter war with a food critic, looses his job and opens a food truck to keep his sanity. I’ve given you a bare bones description of this delicious comedy but there is so much more to the film. It needs to be devoured to be appreciated.
Judd: Boy, am I glad hammy puns and cheesy play on words aren’t your bread and butter. (Boom! That’s how it done, son!) You saw Chef before I did and you came back raving about how touching and wonderful it was, so I went in prepared for the worst and ready to make the movie bleed. However, this time your judgment wasn’t clouded by the food and the leading man’s moobs. I agree that Chef is a delightful, touching, sentimental-without-being-syrupy comedy that reminded me a lot of 2011’s The Descendants in its strong script and deft direction. It’s only until the very end that Chef turns sickeningly sweet.
Swanner: That’s because most people like happy endings. I like The Descendants reference; both are smart movies that leave you hungry for more with good casts that have child actors that can act. I was going to use Juno and Little Miss Sunshine but I didn’t want to lose what little good will I was getting from you. I remember being surprised when I realized Favreau had directed Iron Man and Elf, this really shows that he can do it all. The biggest problem I had with the film was it made me hungry. I had to hit KFC for a Double Down before I passed out from hunger.
Judd: Only you would watch a movie about good food and culinary art then head to a KFC; you’re revealing more about more about yourself. The thing about Chef that I really liked, and I think exposes the wanton capriciousness of the MPAA, is the language of the film made the script very real. F-bombs were flying around the kitchen, just like it would in a real restaurant. Because of that, a very good movie about a man finding himself and reconnecting with his son, gets an R-rating. Of course, this is the same problem that we had with The King’s Speech. Regardless, the supporting cast featured the always wonderful, and underworked Bobby Cannavale, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson and Sofia Vergara (this generation’s Charo). There are also appearances by Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt, Robert Downey Jr., Russell Peters and a spot-on Amy Sedaris.
Swanner: I really liked that no one is really the bad guy here. Favreau has a bad day and looks like a schmuck … it happens. Platt writes food reviews, Hoffman is thinking about his restaurant. I’m so tired of films where someone has to be the hero and someone has to be the bad guy. People are constantly evolving and life gets in the way. I loved this movie. I call it a little film but in reality it has got huge stars and it’s beautifully made. It looks like the studio thinks it is an art house film … I hope an audience finds it because this is a treat not to be missed. Best Movie of the Year.
Judd: I agree. Overall the movie is very good. Touching without being needy or cloying – as food critic Ramsey Michel would have said. The only time the movie stumbles is at the very end, in what feels like a throwback to the Hays Code; an ending tacked on at the last minute to appease some studio hack. For me, it’s hard to overlook.
Swanner: 4 Stars
Judd: 3 ½ Stars