This film should have been called The Social Network Part 2. Or Twitter. Or Vine. Or, even, Facebook. Because it is not just about a failed chef trying to hack a living. Or a father getting to know his neglected son. Or a little boy growing up. Or a road trip involving a food truck and delicious Cuban sandwiches and eager buyers. It’s about how all of these things—threads in ‘Chef’s storyline– can be achieved only if you can tweet as fast as you can flip a burger.
The film starts out with a real story. LA-based master chef Carl Casper ( Favreau) wants to impress a hard-nosed food blogger with a bespoke menu, but is stymied by the conservative restaurant’s owner ( Hoffman). The blogger’s rant goes viral; so does Carl’s coloufully abusive retort. Then begins, start ticking off now, the cooking up a storm for the drop-dead sexy restaurant hostess ( Johansson), getting closer to son ( Anthony), manning up said son while re-discovering his curvy ex-spouse ( Vergara) and her ex-spouse ( Downey Jr). And, of course, searching for a direction.
There are no surprises here. But that’s not much of a surprise, given the way this film opens, sets itself up and goes its good-natured but sluggish way. The nice parts involve all the lovely food : I promise you will salivate, especially when Favreau plates up some mean herbed glistening-in-seasoning spaghetti. The rest of the cast– the burly master chef, his faithful second-in-command ( Leguizamo), the always-online smart sonny boy, the permanently immaculate Vergara, the too rich ex husband– all do their bit, making `Chef’ a moderately absorbing watch.
It would have been a more savoury morsel if it had been a little cautious about the online forces it tries to harness : like a cartoon film, it has too many hashtag ready tweety bird cheeping and flying across the screen. What is this, film as promotional tool for a social networking site?
A Cuban sandwich gets over, leaving an empty plate : a tweet is forever.
(Follow Shubhra Gupta on Twitter. You can also send your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org )