Ten years ago, Carl Casper was the hottest chef around, but now he is old news. He gets crapped on by the restaurant owner and a leading food critic, but still insists he has creative control of his kitchen.
“There can only be one boss,” Carl’s son tells him.
It is a line that didn’t make it into the theatrical cut; it’s in the deleted scenes, and it really sums up the point of the movie. Casper finally realizes that he is having his soul sucked out of him by working at a restaurant where he does not set the menu, so he makes some drastic changes.
Jon Favreau, who directed Elf and plays Happy in the Iron Man movies, wrote, directed, and starred in Chef. His performance as the frustrated Carl Casper is inspired. You can tell that somewhere along the line he has lived the frustration of having his dreams killed if only because he tells the tale so well.
The star-studded cast does just as good a job as Favreau in making this a winning flick. Sofia Vergara is as beautiful as ever in the role of Casper’s ex-wife, although it begs the question, “why would anyone divorce her in the first place?” Dustin Hoffman is still in form as the controlling restaurant owner. The role of Percy is winningly played by 11-year-old Emjay Anthony, who was born in Clearwater Beach, Florida. You will not want to miss Robert Downey Jr. as Vergara’s crazy millionaire first husband.
I think to some extent we all, at some point, had (or have) soul-sucking jobs that we stay at just to pay our bills. We long to live our dreams, but reality holds us back. That is Carl Casper’s situation also, so it really feels good when he breaks out and takes a chance. This movie definitely has a feel-good ending! The story and the acting are golden and full of hope. Four out of five stars for Chef.
Rated R for language (the 4-letter words flow fast and freely).