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

Night at the Museum (2006)

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Director: Shawn Levy

Cast: Ben Stiller, Carla Gugino, Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, Bill Cobbs, Robin Williams

Screenplay: Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon

108 mins. Rated PG for mild action, language and brief rude humor.

 

As 2014 comes to a close, and the final film featuring Robin Williams is soon to be released, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. With that in mind, I decided to look back at the original film.

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Night at the Museum features Ben Stiller (Zoolander, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) as Larry Daley, a failing inventor out of his luck and looking for a job. That is, until he gets a break in the form of a position as a night security guard at the Museum of Natural History. The only catch is, everything in the museum comes to life at night thanks to a mysterious tablet. Now, with the help of a wax Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams, Good Will Hunting, Dead Poet’s Society), Larry has to protect the natural order of the museum and defend it from the forces trying to get their hands on the tablet.

Ben Stiller is a lot of fun in this movie. It happens to be a comedy that is more focused than a lot of Stiller’s less-than-stellar work. He does get great help from Carla Gugino (Watchmen, Man of Steel) who is largely wasted on a bit role, as well as support from legends Dick Van Dyke (TV’s Diagnosis: Murder, Curious George), Mickey Rooney (The Fox and the Hound, Breakfast at Tiffany’s) and Bill Cobbs (Oz the Great and Powerful, The Muppets), but the film really rests of the shoulders of a strong screenplay and the masterful handling by director Shawn Levy (Real Steel, This is Where I Leave You).

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The CG effects are strong and still look pretty good some eight years later, and the films jokes largely continue to land (with the exception of a few noticeable improvs from Stiller). I just plain had a lot of fun watching this movie. It is zany and yet smart and makes great usage of an interesting plot device. All in all, Night at the Museum is a wonderful film for audiences of all ages and it has the thrills and laughs to keep it going the entire runtime.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

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