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  • Nate Lemann

CHEF (2014) MOVIE REVIEW

Updated: Jul 16

Jon Favreau's 2014 passion project about a disgraced high-end chef learning to find his passion again running a food truck is more about finding a way to connect with your loved ones...holding special significance in my life.


by Nate Lemann

John Leguizamo, Jon Favreau, and Emjay Anthony in "Chef"
John Leguizamo, Jon Favreau, and Emjay Anthony in "Chef"
 

I lost my father last May and he was a major reason why I love everything about movies. He took me to countless films when I was little but didn’t limit me to just kids movies, exposing to more mature and challenging content when I was young. Sometimes that was a good thing: my eyes were opened very early on about what one could do with storytelling and the boundaries that can be pushed on traditional narrative structure; plus I was the cool kid at school who saw all the latest hard-R action movies. Sometimes, not as much: seeing "The Exorcist" as young as I did forever scarred me and put me off of horror movies for close to two decades. Also, I announced in 2nd grade I wanted to direct rated-R movies when I grow up and my teachers didn’t know what I meant was movies like "Die Hard" and less like "Eyes Wide Shut."


We hadn’t watched many movies together leading up to his death but we always traded recommendations on what we’d seen recently. Shortly before he died , he was getting into Ingmar Bergman and would always plead I watch his work. The last time I was with him in the hospital, he wasn’t watching much but I thought he could go for something breezy to distract him from the monotony but also a movie that had some flare (the fact that it also delved into southern/Latin food culture also seemed perfect as that was something else he also had a deep passion for). I’d seen "Chef" years ago and always enjoyed it. I thought he would, too. We watched a little of it on my iPad in the hospital together but he got tired and then needed help elsewhere. He did tell me as I left that day that he would like to see more of it when he was felling better.


We never got to the rest of it. Since losing him, it has been hard to say the least. There is so much I miss about him. I got around to "Chef" again a few months after he died as I was looking for something to watch and comfort me in those tougher times (as I often do with movies). I found this film in my “continue to watch” que and decided to come back to it.


For those who haven't seen it, the film follows a chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) who is both unfulfilled in his high-end restaurant and has been an absentee father to his adoring son (Emjay Anthony). When a food critic's scathing review ends in a very public brawl, Favreau's character must lick his wounds and accept an opportunity from his ex-wife (Sofia Vergara) to run a food truck and drive it cross-country from Miami to L.A. When Casper's son joins along, along with a fellow chef from his old gig (John Leguizamo), the journey proves to be the shot of inspiration that Casper needed to reinvigorate his career...and his relationship with his son.


Watching it again, I have to say the father and son dynamic was so resonant and Jon Favreau’s character reminded me greatly of my father (a deep passion for life and a man who wanted to make sure he found a way to try to share that with his kids, too). I weeped when he described to his son about wanting to share his passion for cooking with him. I felt like my dad was talking to me again about Ingmar Bergman and wanting to share those experiences with me. I wish I shared more with him and am grateful for the time we got together. I'm also grateful this was the last movie we started to watch together and know he would’ve really enjoyed the rest of it.


 

FINAL RATING: 5/5 (A Masterpiece You Should Share with Family)

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Hi! I'm Nate and I love to talk all things movies. I'll be posting new reviews, recent rewatches, and much more on this site. So come on and let's talk movies! 

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