Wednesday, September 17, 2014

3 Short Paragraphs: Chef

2014, John Favreau (Cowboys & Aliens, Iron Man) -- cinema

Its really hard for me to write well (shaddup) about something I really like. Often the minutia that comes together to make something that perfectly clicks with me is intangible, even to me. But some of the elements of Chef are already right down my alley, so they have to be contributors. First, its a food movie with all the classic overhead shots of tasty looking food being well plated. And its also about a food truck, one cliche of the mid-otts that I am happy to indulge in; well, whenever you can under Toronto's draconian food truck laws. And it is about love: familial love, romantic love and the tight bonds of friendships that cannot be denied. It even tosses in some insightful uses of social technologies, focusing on how they can bring people together instead of just sharing their naughty pics. It is a feel good movie that presents itself to all the senses and emotions.

John Favreau is Carl Casper, a chef in an LA resto. He wants to cook his best, present his creativity but Dustin Hoffman wants him to continue to cook the favs on the menu, the items that keep the patrons and money flowing in. Add to that a food blogger (Oliver Platt) gone national who ridicules Casper and you get the first act, the life Casper is leading and how he is struggling. His difficult relationship with his ex-wife and young son only further complicate things. So, of course, it all has to collapse when Casper freaks out on the food blogger with it all being captured on someone's phone cam. He is instantly a meme. He is fired.

There is almost an entire movie in that first act, and what I loved so much about this movie is how much it continued on. It didn't feel rushed through the different acts of the story, but filled them up with so much. That we could cover an entire act with Casper rebuilding a food truck in Miami, along with the dedicated friendship of Martin (John Leguizamo) and Casper's son, is lovely. Its about rebuilding relationships, with his son, with his ex-wife and re-establishing why Casper and Martin are such good friends. The final act has the guys driving the truck back to LA, stopping in key cities to promote the truck on Twitter and add local fare to the menu: cubano sandwiches from Miami, beignets from New Orleans and BBQed pork from Austin, Texas. This act is a road story, a music story and the vacation I desperately need in my life. Oh, if I could have half the passion with which these guys live their lives I would be a much richer man, even if you ignore the fact that once again, people pursue a grand life only because of a grand amount of money. Ignore that lil bit of cynicism. I loved the movie. And the best sign of loving a food movie? I was hungry afterwards.

So, where can I find cubanos in Toronto?