Movie Review: Chefon May 27, 2014 at 9:13 am
My favorite movie this year, Chef is a throwback to the American independent style of film making from the 90’s except it features the cast of Ironman 2. Scarlett Johansen, Robert Downy Jr and Dustin Hoffman all take supporting roles while the titular role of chef is taken by writer/director John Favreau who I guess has returned to acting now. This is kinda awesome. It would be like if I had so much clout in the industry, I could just hire Otomo and Mobius to do my lettering and coloring. I loved Swingers and Made and I was hoping Chef would play like a third installment in the trilogy. But without Vince Vaugn, John Favreau seems kinda sad and lonely, like David Spade without Chris Farley. That said, Chef is actually the best of the three. It really got me on a gut level that the others didn’t.
In Chef, John Favreau plays a washed up chef at a boring high end restaurant. He’s getting older, he feels guilty about neglecting his son, he’s no longer then hot new thing, the critics trash him, and ultimately he loses his job because he insists on cooking up sweetbreads instead of french onion soup. So he goes to Florida and buys a busted up food truck. Then he and his 10 year old son take a road trip back to LA in said truck, frying up Cuban sandwiches along the way. I guess you could say it was a heart-warming feel good type movie but all the characters and relationships were so natural and true you don’t really notice that there weren’t any huge laughs or crazy turns.
Maybe it’s ego but the whole time watching this movie I couldn’t help but put myself in John Favreau’s shoes. Replace food truck with risograph machine and sweetbreads with (SPOILER) Jimmy stabbing people with cum shanks and you’ve basically got the last 4 years of my life. I’m getting older, I feel guilty about neglecting my son, I am no longer then hot new thing, the critics trash me. Of course John Favreau probably wasn’t thinking of the career of Jason Shiga when he made Chef. He was probably thinking about Cowboys Vs Aliens and what a turd it was. The culinary equivalent of french onion soup, warmed up and served to a mass of dimwitted patrons so he could get his paycheck at the end of the night.
Back to Chef, the most touching scene in the movie is when John Favreau buys his son a chef’s knife. It’s a big responsibility for a little kid but he earned it. Again ego, but one of my most cherished memories of my Dad was when he got me a Rambo knife for my 10th birthday. It became my most treasured possession and I would just spend hours sharpening it with my little whetstone. I proceeded to carry it around with me at all times, including to school hidden under my shirt. I also worked up the nerve to flip it into the air and catch it by the handle, a maneuver I spent days practicing with the sheath on before trying it out bare. Fun memories, but now that I’m a Dad myself… what the hell was he thinking!!? I can only imagine what sort of mischief the kid in Chef ended up getting into with his knife.
If I had one complaint about the movie, it was the ending. Everything gets resolved in such a neat and clean manner. The critic who trashed him inexplicably decides to buy John Favreau a restaurant, he marries Sophia Vergara and starts spending more time with his kid. In my own life, I recently got the opportunity to take on a paying comics gig. It was a tough decision. It meant spending less time with my own kid and with Demon, so I could work on a more mainstream type comic that I wasn’t super passionate about. It was good money so I made the tradeoff. Unlike in the movies, Tucker Stone probably won’t be footing the bill for my next graphic novel about anything I want. Going out on your own is really really tough and not just for you but for any family and friends that are close to you. But printing up these issues of Demon that I can hold in my hands and be really really proud of is worth a lot to me. It’s important and it’s something the movie got right as well.