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Generally favorable reviews - based on 36 Critics What's this?

User Score
8.3

Universal acclaim- based on 64 Ratings

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 36
  2. Negative: 2 out of 36
  1. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    May 15, 2014
    100
    Chef is the best thing he (Favreau) has ever done, as writer or director or actor. It's the sort of thing of beauty that filmmakers are ultimately remembered for.
  2. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    May 15, 2014
    88
    An engaged, engaging voyage of (re)discovery that’s too in love with its subject to qualify as food porn. It’s food romance.
  3. Reviewed by: Jeff Baker
    May 22, 2014
    83
    Favreau's a big man who knows how to wield a chef's knife and shoots the food truck scenes with a hectic good nature that's infectious.
  4. Reviewed by: Clark Collis
    May 7, 2014
    75
    The first two thirds of Chef crackle with hunger-inducing imagery and laughter-provoking gags.
  5. Reviewed by: Joe Leydon
    Mar 10, 2014
    70
    The final destination is entirely predictable — right down to the deus ex machina reappearance of an erstwhile antagonist — but the trip itself is never less than pleasant, and often extremely funny.
  6. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    May 8, 2014
    60
    [A] shallow but enjoyable all-American morality play.
  7. Reviewed by: Drew Taylor
    Mar 10, 2014
    16
    While the more down-to-earth Chef does offer some fascinating autobiographical dimensions, the film is also an overlong, unfunny, largely insufferable bore.

See all 36 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 29
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 29
  3. Negative: 0 out of 29
  1. Jun 30, 2014
    10
    I had pretty high expectations for this film, and they were met, I really enjoyed this film from start to finish. Its a believable, down-to-earth, and heartwarming feel-good movie, but it isn't at all cheesy or overly sentimental. The acting is superb, the pacing and length just right and it has some really funny moments. The characters are all very endearing and all very well scripted and acted. The cinematography is superb and the food looks sumptuous. I don't have anything bad to say about this movie, I thoroughly enjoyed it and would definitely watch it a second time. Expand
  2. Jun 23, 2014
    10
    What a surprise!! I figured it would be something along the lines of a Food Network style production and boy was I wrong.This was an absolutely charming film filled with warmth, humour and characters I cared about. Jon Favreau wrote, directed and acted brilliantly along with an amazing supporting cast. So nice to see a movie that's about people and the trails and tribulations of their lives. It was also an interesting look at the power of social media. Definitely my favourite movie of the year and one of my favorite movies ever. An absolute delight!! Expand
  3. Jun 1, 2014
    10
    Who knew a movie about a food truck could turn into one of the best movies of the year? Of course, that's a rudimentary plot synapsis, but it is the heart and soul of the film. It's sometimes sweet, but sometimes serious. It has a nice blend of wit and humor, and features an amazing script that just feels like everyday conversation. The best part of the movie is what many directors strive for but never fully achieve: it shows how skilled professionals work, and how they feel when they do what they love (or hate for that matter). The food shown in the movie makes you lick your lips and just want to eat all the gourmet dishes Chef Casper prepares. And in some ways, the movie resembles the food he prepares: fresh, irresistible, and easily taken in. I could go on and on about what a good movie this was. Expand
  4. Jun 6, 2014
    9
    Chef is a film about a battle we all face to reconnect with our passions when the flame has burned out. Jon Favreau, a jack-of-all-trades in Hollywood who has hidden behind his passions for the last decade or so, has stuck to his guns on this one and delivered an indie film that not only delivers a tasty slice of one’s person’s struggle to keep their passion alive, but also shows the consequences when one follows their passion too closely. Carl Casper (Favreau) is a phenomenal chef but a lousy father to his son Percy (Emjay Anthony). Carl tries hard to entertain his son with artificial activities that he thinks would allow them to bond by taking him on roller coasters, to town fairs and the beach, while failing to realize that all Percy wants to do is just hang out with his dad. In an early scene, Carl and Percy connect over a homemade grilled cheese sandwich, discussing twitter, social media and the effects of the Internet on youth and an older generation of users. Percy smiles and the art of subtly is established. Chef could then best be described as the perfect grilled cheese sandwich; familiar and fattening, yet, when cooked right, its gooey, cheesy deliciousness and soft center always finds a place in your heart. Chef may be cheesy and formulaic at times, but at its core it’s just plain comfort food that is perfect for the soul. Simply put, Chef is mm-mmm satisfying filmmaking in the shape of a surprisingly delicious film.

    It’s not hard to see the comparison Favreau is making between his career in Hollywood and his love for independent filmmaking. There is no denying that Favreau is a modern-day pioneer when it comes to directors and writers with humble beginnings. Favreau, who started off his career scripting Swingers as well as writing/directing/producing his 2001 smash Made, has set a trend for Hollywood studios who snatch up promising young directors to spearhead big-budget blockbuster film franchises. After all, Favreau was the first director for Marvel to successfully launch the Marvel universe on the big screen and reignited good friend Robert Downey Jr.’s career after his stint in rehab. Favreau is undoubtedly a man of wonders and shows off his skills here behind the burner.

    With Chef, it is not hard to see that Favreau is a lover, not a fighter; a lover of culture; of beautiful women; of fine filmmaking and most of all, a lover of good food. Through Chef, Favreau serves up his signature dish: real-world comedy that doesn’t sugarcoat what real-relationships actually look like.

    Carl Casper is surely a representation of everything Favreau has been feeling for a very long time. Lost and unhappy behind the scenes of a posh Venice Californian restaurant owned by the business oriented Riva (Dustin Hoffman), Carl is given a little hint of hope when he gets wind that the critic who helped launch his career from culinary obscurity in Miami is coming back to review him. Last time Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt) and he met, Ramsey was a small time food critic, doing it for the love of food. This time, Ramsey, backed by AOL and nearly ten million followers, challenges Carl to cook something special. As he gets his kitchen staff ready, namely his sous-chef Tony (Bobby Cannavale), his line chef Martin (John Leguizamo) and his hostess and gorgeous Sommelier Molly (Scarlett Johansson), Carl begins to prepare a menu that will knock Ramsey’s socks off. Despite his best efforts, the restaurant’s owner Riva thwarts Carl’s plans, forcing him to prepare the same, tired menu that he’s been doing for a decade. As tempers flare and egos parade, the events of Ramsey’s return find Carl without a job, forcing him to seek refuge in his ex-wife Inez (Sofia Vergara) and her eccentric ex-boyfriend Marvin (Robert Downey Jr.). On a surprise trip back to Miami, Carl allows the spice and sizzle of the Latin culture to take hold, and while enjoying a simple Cubano sandwich [basically a ham and cheese sandwich], Carl finds inspiration in owning a food truck.

    It’s no surprise that Favreau, who has made excellent relations with A-list actors during his time in the big leagues, likes to surround himself with the best. Chef may not look like your typical independent film feature courtesy of the generic polished coating and a star-studded cast that would make the night sky jealous, but the film uses its high-profile cast to its advantage. From Dustin Hoffman, who plays a the perfect, grumpy restaurateur, to Scarlett Johansson, who captivates with subtle sounds during a seductively sexy food foreplay scene, to the mega superstar Robert Downey Jr., who in only mere minutes, finds a way to convince audiences that he is able to create a more outrageous character than Tony Stark, the film showcases the organic talent of a cast who have spent a little too much time in the bright Hollywood spotlight.
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  5. Jun 9, 2014
    8
    Don't see this movie if you are hungry! There are many closeups of delicious food being prepared and sometimes eaten that will head you to the nearest four star restaurant. But this is much more than a foodie movie. Rather it is a story of human relationships, primarily that between writer-director-actor Jon Favreau, who plays an ultra chef, and his growing relationship with his 10 year old son who is seen only occasionally because of a divorce. Fate intervenes, father and son are together for a protracted period during a trip from Miami to California in a food truck, and excellent acting by Favreau and the boy will warm one's heart as father and son bond . The ending is a bit contrived, but leaves the audience in an upbeat mood--people applauded at the end. One caveat. The film is rated R because the grown-ups all seem addicted to the F word. An occasional use would have been sufficient and allowed a PG-13 rating. A pity but something that Hollywood does all too often under the mistaken impression that the vast majority of Americans are using the word in everyday conversation. Expand
  6. Jun 23, 2014
    8
    This is probably best film that Jon Favreau has ever directed.
    It moved and the performances are stellar. Getting Bobby Cannivale
    and John
    Leguizamo to support him was genius. "Johnny Legs" as
    Leguizamo was finally given some material that he could sink his teeth into.
    Dustin Hoffman and Robert Downey Jr. was great in their short stints.
    I like Sofia Vergara, but I had a hard time believing the two were involved.
    Scarlett Johanssen was sexy and smart. What really sells the movie is
    the music. New Orleans brass music as well as Salsa were big as stars
    as were the food and the actors. One minor hitch for me was the ending was too
    formulaic. Otherwise bravo!! Maybe Vince Vaughn can find something just as good
    to revive his dying career.
    Expand
  7. May 17, 2014
    6
    An occasionally amusing though often-episodic offering that can never quite make up its mind what kind of film it wants to be -- a feel good flick, a road trip story, an edgy comedy -- thanks to its loosely strung-together collection of bits that are sometimes funny in themselves but lack a general overall cohesiveness. Its endless references to various social media sites gets tedious after a while, too, looking more like a Twitter commercial than a motion picture. Wait for this one to come to DVD. Expand

See all 29 User Reviews

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