Chef (R)

Film

Comedy

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

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Time Out says

Tue May 6

Carl Casper (writer-director Jon Favreau) is stuck in a chocolate-lava-cake rut. Ten years into his plum post at a high-end L.A. eatery, the onetime Miami food wunderkind has taken to passionless, crowd-baiting cooking, hamstrung by his seat-filling restaurateur boss (Dustin Hoffman). When that kitchen complacency is brutally called out by a big-time critic (Oliver Platt, in a deliciously cheeky bit of casting—real-life bro Adam is New York magazine’s longtime food critic), Carl’s retaliatory lash-out goes viral, and the disgraced toque is told to pack his knives and go.

At the cajoling of his ex-wife, Inez (a subdued Sofía Vergara), Carl escapes his newfound Internet infamy, returning to Miami and his long-neglected, mop-topped young son, Percy (Emjay Anthony). Reinvigorated by his old stomping grounds, Carl decides to pull a culinary 180 and ditch his fine-dining chef’s whites for a junky Cubano food truck, embarking on a road to redemption both at home and in the kitchen.

Swap out a food truck for a personal-growth indie and you’ve got Favreau’s career in an easy-to-crack nutshell. Since writing and starring in 1996 critics’ darling Swingers, the multihyphenate has been wading in the franchise pool (namely, the Iron Man movies), sometimes meeting with his own version of reviewer hateration. (See: Cowboys & Aliens. Better yet, don’t.) Chef marks a return to Favreau’s home-cooked roots, albeit with the perks of his big-budget finesse. The nonstop kitchen bustle has the top-shelf slickness of an action-movie sequence, and the high-calorie food porn is as excellently gratuitous as a car chase.

A meandering middle and sticky-sweet third act can be overlooked if only for the savviness with which Favreau portrays the food world. Employing Kogi food-truck founder Roy Choi as an on-set consultant, Favreau nails the locker-room camaraderie between Carl and his line lieutenants (a game John Leguizamo and Bobby Cannavale), the local color of gastro meccas like New Orleans and Austin (a few ounces should have been shaved off these travelogue tangents, but you’ll be too food-drunk off glistening barbecue to care) and the make-or-break role of social media in restaurant life. There’s family-friendly fluff here, sure, but this dish has considerable bite.

Follow Christina Izzo on Twitter: @christinalizzo

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Release details

Rated:

R

US release:

Fri May 9, 2014

Duration:

115 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Jon Favreau

Cast:

Jon Favreau, Scarlett Johansson, Sofía Vergara, Dustin Hoffman, John Leguizamo, Oliver Platt

Screenwriter:

Jon Favreau

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AMC Loews Country Club Hills 16

4201 W. 167th St., Country Club Hills, 60478 Show map/details

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    AMC Loews Country Club Hills 16 4201 W. 167th St.
    Country Club Hills
    60478

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    888-262-4386

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    1. AMC Loews Country Club Hills 16
      • 4201 W. 167th St.
        Country Club Hills
        60478
      • 888-262-4386
      • 41.5861,-87.7218
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AMC Loews Streets of Woodfield

601 N Martingale Rd, Schaumburg Show map/details

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    AMC Loews Streets of Woodfield 601 N Martingale Rd
    Schaumburg

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    888-262-4386

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    amcentertainment.com

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AMC Loews Woodridge 18

10000 Woodward Ave., Woodridge, 60517 Show map/details

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    AMC Loews Woodridge 18 10000 Woodward Ave.
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    888-262-4386

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      • 10000 Woodward Ave.
        Woodridge
        60517
      • 888-262-4386
      • 41.7055,-88.023
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AMC River East 21

322 E Illinois St, (at Fairbanks Ct), Chicago Show map/details

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    AMC River East 21 322 E Illinois St
    Chicago

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    at Fairbanks Ct

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    888-262-4386

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    El stop: Red to Grand. Bus: 29, 65, 66, 124.

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    AMC Showplace Village Crossing 18 7000 Carpenter Rd
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    fandango.com

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      • 7000 Carpenter Rd
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      • 847-673-8581
      • fandango.com
      • 42.009303,-87.765049
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AMC South Barrington 30

170 Studio Dr, South Barrington Show map/details

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    AMC South Barrington 30 170 Studio Dr
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AMC Yorktown 17

80 Yorktown Ctr., Lombard, 60148 Show map/details

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    AMC Yorktown 17 80 Yorktown Ctr.
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      • 80 Yorktown Ctr.
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      • 888-262-4386
      • 41.8404,-88.0032
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Century 16 Deer Park

21600 W Field Pkwy, Deer Park, 60010 Show map/details

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    Century 16 Deer Park 21600 W Field Pkwy
    Deer Park
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      • 800-326-3264
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Cinemark at Valparaiso

700 Porter's Vale Blvd., Valparaiso, 46383 Show map/details

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    Cinemark at Valparaiso 700 Porter's Vale Blvd.
    Valparaiso
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      • 700 Porter's Vale Blvd.
        Valparaiso
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      • 800-326-3264
      • 41.4818,-87.0319
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Classic Cinemas Ogden 6

1227 E Ogden Ave, Naperville Show map/details

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    Classic Cinemas Ogden 6 1227 E Ogden Ave
    Naperville

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    630-357-5050

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    classiccinemas.com

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