Star – John Favreau
Genre – Comedy
Run Time – 114 minutes
Certificate – 12
Country – USA
Oscars – Nominations
Awards – 2 Wins & 2 Nominations
Amazon – £2.99 DVD (Blue Ray £4.99)
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
So twenty-years ago young actors Johh Favreau, Vince Vaughn and Ron Livingstone exploded onto the scene with the brilliant labor of love comedy ‘Swingers’, and proceeded to do very little of quality since. Vaughn dumped turgid romcom after turgid romcom on us like a burst toilet bowl and Livingston ended up being a jobbing actor who you would know him if you see him but not know his name. Favreau, on the other hand, lost his looks very quickly by piling on the pounds and became the loser he played in Swingers, until he moved behind the camera to direct, bringing us two excellent Iron Man movies and the timeless classic Elf. He still acted to pay the bills but can hardly be called a leading man these days. But he wrote Chef as another passion project and determined to get it made, casting himself in the lead role to save the money he was clearly spending on it.
Being a big shot director now he has enough cash and sway to produce mid budget films like Chef, casting comic book co-workers Rob Downey-Junior and Scarlett Johansson in smaller roles so to get studio backing, and then added sexy Sofia Vergara as the token totty, the Columbian catwalk model with distracting assets. The fading light that is Dustin Hoffman cuts a sad figure here though. I suppose Favreau thought casting these guys in minor roles was the only surefire way to get anyone to watch a film about a chef who appears to eat most of his food.
Jon Favreau ... Carl Casper
John Leguizamo ... Martin
Bobby Cannavale ... Tony
Emjay Anthony ... Percy
Scarlett Johansson ... Molly
Dustin Hoffman ... Riva
Sofía Vergara ... Inez
Oliver Platt ... Ramsey Michel
Amy Sedaris ... Jen
Robert Downey Jr. ... Marvin.
Fading L.A celebrity chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) is on the way down after being divorced by his super sexy Columbian wife Inez (Sofia Vergara), putting on a 50 Lbs and now losing the respect of his young son Percy (Emjay Anthony). It’s about to get worse as his job as head chef at a swanky Brentwood restaurant is in doubt after getting a terrible review from an influential blogger for cooking the owners (Dustin Hoffman) menu not his.
With the help of Percy, Casper calls out blogger Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt) on Twitter, resulting in media frenzy and insults being thrown. After a showdown in the restaurant the head chef is, indeed, fired. Inez suggests her ex husband should turn this into a positive and go back to his roots and try and fall in love with cooking all over again by doing the food he wants to cook, and spend more time with his neglected young son in the process.
After turning down Hells Kitchen he seeks the help of his ex wife other ex husband (Robert Downey Jr.) to fund a mobile gourmet food truck, a craze sweeping America. With trusted sous chef Martin (John Leguizamo) on board and mom allowing Percy to join dad, the three set off for Miami on a mammoth road trip to create some Latin flavors, little Percy a whizz on social media helping to generate some more favorable publicity. But will the ingredients blend on the road and in the claustrophobic mobile kitchen?
With some decent reviews from decent broadsheets I was expecting a tasty and textured meal here. I tried to like it but it just didn’t get going. It didn’t leave a bitter taste in the mouth or anything but just too sweet and wholesome for me. The rather ugly and fat Favreau is hard work on the eyes in the lead, especially as there are so many attractive people in this rather light movie all around him. There is no way he would have married a girl like Sofia Vergara. Seeing Rob Downey Junior and Scarlett Johansson sitting around on screen doing next to nothing in the movie gives this away as the vanity project it is. Favors are being returned. Vergura is indeed a sexbomb and you should check out her photos but watching her trying to act here is rather painful. She may look great on film but she sounds awful.
The whole father-son thing feels forced although some points to be made on the role social media plays in our lives now. I suppose the film does act as a bit of a metaphor for Favreau’s career and you will be salivating as the food porno gets going. Don’t watch this with an empty stomach folks. It isn’t really much of a comment on modern restaurants and fancy food though; certainly no mention of 15% tips included on your bill and the vast amount of illegal immigrants working in Los Angeles restaurants. There isn’t much story here either and the bonding thing doest really convince and with no real paternal chemistry there the point of the film feels vacant.
On the whole it’s a niche gentle comedy looking for exactly that audience. I personally don’t care much for fancy food and Jon Favrau in the lead and so my gut instinct right that I would not like this. For its $11 budget it did a healthy $46 million back and so, if you excuse the pun, an acquired taste. A film that manages to put me off Sofia Vergura is quite a feat though. I’m sure it will appeal to some but not for me as you quick step through the movie with the vibrant Latin beat soundtrack. But don’t expect anything stand out here as it’s simply doesn’t get going. Danish film Barbettes Feast (1987) is the greatest food movie you will ever see by far.
Imdb.com – 7.3/10.0 (150,345votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 86% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 68% critic’s approval
The Independent –‘The result is a small, unashamedly feel-good film that makes up for what it lacks in dramatic jeopardy with gentle comedy, heartwarming family scenes, ladles of food porn, and time spent among characters you like’.
Toronto Times –‘It's 20 minutes too long and a hair too manipulative, but Favreau is so intent on delivering a pleasurable experience that it almost seems unfair to hold his excesses against him’.
Radio Times –‘Whatever you do, don't go to see Chef on an empty stomach -- it's a feel-good foodie film that will have you salivating within minutes’.
Seattle Weekly –‘Comfort food, meet comfort movie’.
The Patriot Ledger –‘Chef finds Favreau writing, directing, and starring on a much smaller scale, yet still serving up a fully nourishing meal’.
Observer U.K –‘Chef slips a few tasty side dishes around its meat-and-potatoes main course’.
Financial Times –‘Co-stars John Leguizamo and Bobby Cannavale try hard to be funny to prop up a filmmaker-star barely trying at all’.
The channel is an amazing way for younger kids to enjoy good television. It shows all the classic Disney movies like '101 Dalmations' and 'The Lion King'. Not only do you get the quality entertainment for kids but it is also fun for teenagers who want to reminisce and watch all their old favourites. As well as great films, the channel offers other cartoons which are popular among children aged 6 - 12 like 'Kim Possible' or 'Fillmore'. The channel also runs until late at night so children never go without something exciting to watch. It also has a '+1' so if you were to miss something you can easily watch it an hour after it starts. The channel has a tendency to repeat the majority of their films which could get annoying for kids once they have seen it but for the ones who don't, they have a great opportunity to watch their favourite movies whenever they please.
I would rate the channel 8.5/10!
Between the ages of 6 and 12 can be a bit tricky when it comes to TV viewing habits. Children who loved CBeebies outgrow the programming, and the follow on children's channels may contain shows above their own physical and mental maturity level, despite the marketing ploys to make parents and kids think otherwise. Luckily, there is Disney Cinemagic, a Disney branded channel that bridges this gap with TV shows and family films, aimed squarely at children past the Playhouse Disney stage, but not yet truly old enough to properly appreciate the young teen programming of the regular Disney Channel programming.
As the name suggests, the films are all Disney cinema (and a few direct to video) releases of the past, and many of the series are also based upon the hit films, though not all. A quick glance at film offerings reveal Lilo and Stitch, Dumbo, Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, and Lady and the Tramp 2 having aired recently or appearing in the upcoming schedule. My daughter particularly enjoys the Lilo and Stitch animated TV series, and Recess is also a firm favoruite of her and her brother (it's about kids at a primary school and their adventures and escapades on the playground).Other fun shows for tweens include the girly animated spy feature, Kim Possible, 101 Dalmations the series, Tarzan the animated series, and my five year old son's personally adored Lloyd in Space. From time to time they also offer specials, such as the current "The Making of Wall-E."
With the series shown aimed firmly at the 6-12 age demogrpahic, there is very little to worry about here for parents. Humour is typical Disney clean, with the storylines not having any age inappopriate behaviours. Your child will not be enticed to smear her 6 year old self with coloured eye shadow or lip gloss to look like a pop star, nor will she learn to obsess quite yet if that cute boy over there is going to ask her out or give her a kiss. Likewise, kids will not obsess over the latest trendy shoes in these shows, or the latest cool hair style, with cool on the playground being firmly in the "look what I can do on the play equipment" variety with the extra cool points going to those who have secret super spy identities as they use radical gadgets and tackle Disneyfied villains. I have to say I appreciate this, because as a parent of both teens and tweens, I can tell you kids grow up rather fast anyway and its hard enough as it is to keep them where they need to be.
I am not a fan of little girls wearing makeup and children wearing clothes that are mini grown up duds. I like children to enjoy their childhood, just as I did, before all the marketing hype and TV bombardment brainwashed so many. This is not to say that other children do not take notice that my daughter, while 7, is not into all the mini teen stuff, and I think it is rather telling that after a couple weeks of getting to know her, that girls in the tween bracket find their way to my house to watch these shows, play baby dolls and My Little Pony, and start dressing rather like her in more traditional children's wear. Our house is the most popular one in the neighbourhood, it feels like, as the kids are always over here. I think its because growing up is full of enough pressure, and they like having the permission to not do that quite so fast, hard on the heels of the Cbeebies days. While parents can do a lot about this, while choosing their children's books, toys, games, and what not, its nice to see a channel aimed at reinforcing these childhood values while having a lot of fun.
The films make this extra great value, with two different offerings a day. This is great, because you can record them like we do on the Sky+ and watch them together as a special treat, and the mix of recent Disney offerings with vintage Disney films makes for a wide range of great Disney films to catch. many of these air exclusively on Cinemagic and are not offered on any other film channel, either, and while many are available on DVD, why use up a rental when you can watch it as part of your already paid for package? The films are uncut and the prints cleaned up too, so you get the entire film without bits missing. Even better, they don't interrupt the films with advertisements either, so its plain viewing bliss.
This is a subscription channel, and we get this as part of our package from Sky, as it comes with Sky Movies 1 and 2, as well as being available as a stand alone add on with Sky, Tiscali, and Virgin. You get the channel as itself and a +1, so if you find you have just missed the start of something you wanted to watch or record on the "normal" Cinemagic, you can catch it again in an hour on the +1. The channel also boasts a web presence, where you can look up the current viewing schedule, as well a rundown on this month's films they will be showing, and also play a couple of games on offer, though not as many of these as say on the Playhouse Disney site. All in all, it represents excellent value, and provides a wealth of programming my younger children adore without being preschooly. They find the characters easy to relate to, and no undue social pressure are brought to bear that they aren't yet mature enough to handle, so I'm happy too.