Chef (2014)

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Director: Jon Favreau

Cast: Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Oliver Platt, Bobby Cannavale, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Downey Jr., Emjay Anthony

Screenplay: Jon Favreau

114 mins. Rated R for language, including some suggestive references.

 

Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Cowboys & Aliens) has, in the last six years, exploded due to his involvement in the highly successful but extremely risky Marvel Cinematic Universe, including his directing of two installments. After leaving the directorial duties to others, Favreau chose to take on a more personal project in Chef.

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Chef is all about Carl Casper (Favreau), a famous chef capable of great things but squandered by Riva (Dustin Hoffman, TV’s Luck, Kramer vs. Kramer), an uninspired restaurant owner who is sick and tired of Casper’s ways. When Carl loses his way and his job, he and his son Percy (Emjay Anthony, It’s Complicated), along with colleague Martin (John Leguizamo, Ice Age, John Wick), open up a food truck and take it along the American roads.

This is a cute little movie and star-director-writer Favreau does well as Casper, a father who wants to earn back a little love from his son and earn back a little respect after losing it all. This film is all about the relationship between father and son, and it’s played nicely, albeit too familiarly. Favreau’s style here is nice and somewhat inspirational. There isn’t a whole lot of spectacle here, but there doesn’t really need to be. I also love that Jon Favreau learned to cook everything he cooks. He is completely believable and real as the star cook.

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Chef is a nice little character piece but makes the mistakes of being a little too familiar and a little too fairy-tale bowed. It isn’t a film to change any lives, but it is worth a viewing, just not on an empty stomach.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[Oscar Madness] Iron Man (2008)

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Director: Jon Favreau

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Shaun Toub, Gwyneth Paltrow

Screenplay: Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum, Matt Holiday

126 mins. Rated PG-13 for some intense sequences of sci-fi action and adventure, and brief suggestive content.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Sound Editing
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Visual Effects

So, let’s talk Iron Man, Marvel Studios’ first, and arguably biggest, gamble.

IRON MAN

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr., Sherlock Holmes, The Judge) is a billionaire genius, a more asshole-ish version of Bruce Wayne. He is the ultimate playboy, in charge of his father’s company, Stark Industries, maker of weapons of all sorts. But when a routine weapon demonstration in Afghanistan leads to Tony’s being taken captive, Tony must use all his cunning and a little bit of luck to escape. He builds a suit of metal to make this escape, and in the process, Tony Stark becomes Iron Man.

Was there ever a doubt in my mind that Robert Downey Jr was the right man to play Tony Stark. He is the perfect embodiment of this character and just understands it to the extreme. His relationship with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow, Se7en,  Mortdecai) is one of general endearment, complete sweetness. Jeff Bridges (The Big Lebowski, Seventh Son) gives a slightly over-the-top yet wholly understandable performance as Obadiah Stane, mentor and friend to Tony, a man who is out to protect Stark Industries from all threats.

Then there’s Terrence Howard (TV’s Empire, Prisoners). I don’t think Terrence Howard understands this movie, or in fact, this role. I just don’t think he gets that this is a good time at the movies. He’s far too serious at all the wrong time.

Jon Favreau (Chef, Cowboys & Aliens) directs this film with some perfect flair. Were I the heads at Marvel Studious (I’m looking at you Kevin Feige), I wouldn’t have trusted someone like Favreau to make or break my company with this picture, but that’s why I’m not making the big bucks. Jon Favreau gives this film a big style, everything here is crazily over-the-top, and the funny thing is how much it works.

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Now, the film does run on a bit, and Tony Stark is rather annoying for a bulk of the film, but this is still one of the funnest (that’s right, I said it) times at the movies. It isn’t my favorite of the Iron Man films, but the first in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is a great place to start.

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

For my review of Louis Letterrier’s The Incredible Hulk, click here.

For my review of Anthony and Joe Russo’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, click here.

For my review of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, click here.

For my review of Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, click here

For my review of Jon Favreau’s Chef, click here.

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