Blu-ray Review “Chef”

Starring: Jon Favreau, Sofía Vergara, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Oliver Platt, Bobby Cannavale
Director: Jon Favreau
Number of discs: 2
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Universal Studios
Release Date: September 30, 2014
Run Time: 110 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

“Swingers”. “Made”. These are great indie films. They are funny, edgy and relevant. They were also both written and directed by Jon Favreau, who had since went on to direct films like “Iron Man” and “Elf”. This film is an amazing return for him to his indie roots. This is a really heartwarming comedy that has a little bit for everyone, sort of like an appetizer platter since we are on the topic of food. This film is easily one of my favorite films of the year. It is a change from the today flew of sequels / remakes / prequels etc. Jon Favreau is back and I recommend this film to everyone!

Official Premise: An online feud with an influential food critic (Platt) and a creative disagreement with his investor (Hoffman) convince Carl Casper (Favreau) to hang up his apron at a posh Los Angeles bistro and get his mojo back in Miami’s Cuban-inspired cuisine. When his ex-wife (Vergara) helps him get a fresh start with a rundown food truck, Carl and his best friend and sous chef Martin (Leguizamo) head across the country with Carl’s young son Percy on a culinary adventure that helps Carl rediscover what matters in life.

Besides Favreau himself, the film has an all-star cast including John Leguizamo (“Ice Age”), Sofia Vergara (“Modern Family”), Bobby Cannavale (“Blue Jasmine”), Oliver Platt (“Fargo”), Amy Sedaris (“Strangers with Candy”, Dustin Hoffman (“Rain Man”), Scarlett Johansson (“The Avengers”)  and a fantastic appearance from Robert Downey Jr. (“Iron Man”). Newcomer Emjay Anthony also steals the show as Favreau’s son.

Universal is releasing the film as a combo pack including a Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD copy with UltraViolet. The 1080p transfer is outstanding and definitely makes that grilled cheese sandwich that much more mouth-watering. The DTS-Master Audio 5.1 track works perfectly with the film’s perfectly themed music throughout Chef’s journey. The special features are a bit of a let down though. There is a great audio commentary track with Favreau and chef and co-producer Roy Choi. Besides that there is only some deleted scenes.

Film Review “Chef”

Directed by: Jon Favreau
Starring: Jon Favreau, EmJay Anthony. Sofía Vergara, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Oliver Platt, Bobby Cannavale, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Downey, Jr.
Distributed by: Open Road Films
Running time: 114 minutes

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

This summer, we have huge films like “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” and “Godzilla” and then we this little indie film called “Chef”. What is funny is that this film is directed, co-produced, written by and also starring Jon Favreau aka the director of “Iron Man 1 & 2”. He decided to head back to his root ala films like “Made” and “Swingers” and I am so glad he did for a few reasons. The first being that I just love seeing him in front of the camera. When he would appear in his films like “Elf” and the “Iron Man” series, it was a highlight. Second, is that after being so busy with these large Hollywood films, like the character in the film itself, he took a break and went back to doing what he loved originally. I find that very inspiring personally. I absolutely loved this film and  I have a feeling it it will be the sleeper hit of the summer.

“Chef” follows Carl Casper (Favreau), who is a head chef at a restaurant owned by guy who doesn’t know how to run a kitchen (Hoffman). After getting into a way on Twitter with one of the biggest food critics (Platt). Carl hits the role with his son (Anthony) and his ex-wife (Vergara) in order to let things cool down and find his love for food again. When he meets up with his ex-wife’s ex-husband (Downey, Jr.) in Miami, he decides to get a food truck from him and hit the roads in order to capture that original feeling that sparked him to be a chef in the first place. He gets to cook whatever he wants, gets to be his own boss and all without having to deal with food critics. As his son and his sous chef (Leguizamo) hit the road from Miami back to California, they may just find exactly what they have been looking for.

I remember rushing out to a little hole in the wall theater in NYC to catch a screening of “Made” and I just remember thinking how much I really loved Favreau and his writing in that film was just amazing. Not that I don’t appreciate his work on blockbusters like “Iron Man”. I just loved this heart warming story and characters that he has created here. They are sweet, funny and at the same time a little edgy. Favreau’s son in the film is played by EmJay Anthony and he is really fantastic. I forsee a star being born here…watch out! Sofía Vergara is very toned down in the film and also her character is very likable. I really enjoyed her role in this film. John Leguizamo is not good but absolutely amazing in this. Funny and yet has a big heart. Topping off this cast are appearances from Scarlett Johansson, Oliver Platt, Bobby Cannavale, Dustin Hoffman and Robert Downey, Jr (in a small but very key role). I loved every character in this film and every actor did such a stunning job of hitting a home run!

We were lucky privileged to get a chance to actually chat with Jon Favreau and EmJay Anthony at the film’s premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, click here to check it out. So, I had a feeling that this was going to be something special. For Favreau’s first indie film in thirteen years, I literally left the theater so happy and quite freaking hungry. I should have started this review with a warning actually.  Do not see this film without eating before or during because it is jam packed with amazing food that will literally make your mouth water and your stomach growl. Like I said, I easily see “Chef” being the sleeper hit of the summer, so if you get tired of superheros and giant monsters this month, I highly recommend kicking back and enjoying this really funny and sweet film. Great! Now I am hungry again…can I get Favreau to make me that grilled cheese?!


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Jon Favreau talks about “Chef” at Tribeca Film Festival

Chef, the new film from Jon Favreau held its premiere on Tuesday in New York. The hugely successful director of “Iron Man” and “Elf” hasn’t directed an independent film since 2001’s “Made” and was excited to debut the comedy, which he also wrote and stars in, at the Tribeca Film Festival.

In the film, Favreau plays Carl Casper, a chef whose embarrassing confrontation with a food critic goes viral on the web causing him to lose his job at a successful restaurant and start from scratch with a food truck and a road trip with his son. Favreau spoke on the red carpet about the inspiration for this story: 

Favreau: “When you write something like this, you’re not really sure where it comes from. I wanted to write something about a chef and something about being a dad and this is the film that came out. And the fact that I’m at the point in my career where if I have an idea like this, I could get it made and have such great friends who would come together and be part of the cast so I found myself very fortunate.”

Luckily for audiences, Favreau’s friends include Robert Downey Jr who plays Marvin. It’s a small but pivotal role as Marvin provides Carl with his new food truck.

How was it working with Robert Downey Jr. without having him playing Iron Man?
Favreau: “I love working with Robert and it was great for him to be on my movie. Because on the Iron Man movies, I feel like I was really there to help support him and make the character look good and make the story make sense and you know, be there in a supportive role. Here, he came on board my movie to do whatever he could to elevate the film.”

As the story concerns a man frustrated working for a successful business while being artistically unfulfilled, I couldn’t help but wonder if coming off of studio films, the story was at all autobiographical, but Favreau maintains this isn’t the case:

Favreau: “No, I’ve been very lucky, I work on big movies and small movies and I really am very proud of all of them. As a matter of fact, I’m going to do “The Jungle Book” [for Disney] after this which is much bigger than “Chef” so unlike the character in the movie, I really like mixing it up a bit. I think the character I play is a little more confused with what drives him. But I really did have a good time doing a small movie like Chef which is similar to how he feels in the film.”

Favreau was joined on the carpet by his onscreen son, the talented, 10-year-old Emjay Anthony, who had nothing but good things to say about his veteran cast:

Anthony: “Sofia Vergara is just drop dead gorgeous, and [John Leguizamo’s] kind of a ladies’ man and so am I, so there was a little contest there. And then Jon Favreau is just such a great actor.”

As for any upcoming projects for the young Anthony, he told us not right now, but “I’m open for business if anybody wants me!”

“Chef” opens in the US on May 9th.