Chef is a pleasantly empty film that remains a bonafide crowd pleaser throughout, delivering charming moments without much substance or character development. It’s a clear passion project from Jon Favreau, the director, writer, and star of the film that centers on Carl Casper, a chef who loses his restaurant job and pursues a job on a food truck in hopes of reclaiming his creative promise. The supporting cast is widely varied, with John Leguziamo playing a sous chef, Dustin Hoffman playing the owner of the restaurant, Sofia Vergara playing Carl’s ex-wife, Robert Downey Jr. playing her other ex-wife, Oliver Platt as a food critic that destroys Carl’s career, and Scarlett Johansson as a hostess who supports Carl’s endeavors. The film becomes more about Carl’s obsession with food and how it has destroyed his family life, and somehow that takes away from the first half’s excitement; watching him prepare food and seeing the comparisons between food and film critics is uncanny. Yet Chef falls into predictable clichés within the genre and didn’t compel me with its rudimentary characterizations. It’s all fluff and little substance.
Grade: ★★½ (out of 5)