Directed by: Jon Favreau
Written by: Jon Favreau
Starring: Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr.
Runtime: 115 minutes
Jon Favreau returns to his indie roots by writing, directing and starring in this witty and heartfelt comedy. The film follows Carl Casper (Favreau), a chef in a popular Los Angeles restaurant, who feels he’s in a “creative rut”. He finds himself at odds with the restaurant’s owner (Dustin Hoffman), who feels he should just keep making his greatest hits and not take risks. After a war of words on Twitter with a renowned critic, who bashes his menu, Carl decides to go back to basics and get a food truck and work for himself. This way he gets to make the food that he loves and spend some quality time with his son. After fixing up the food truck, supplied to him in a hilarious cameo appearance by Robert Downey Jr., Carl travels the country with his son and pal, Martin, finding his lost creativity and laughs along the way.
This feels like a personal project for Favreau, who after years of making big budget movies like Iron Man, Iron Man 2 and Cowboys & Aliens returns to the indie movie scene. Watching the film, it felt as if Favreau was using the cuisine world as a metaphor for the Hollywood industry he worked in for years. He may have had no say creatively, just like his character in this, so decided to make something he could pour his heart and soul into instead. He now has full control over the product his customers are served. For this project he managed to round up quite an impressive supporting cast including his Marvel buddies Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr., along with John Leguizamo, Dustin Hoffman and Modern Family’s Sofia Vergara. All of these stars take smaller roles than they would be normally accustomed to and really make the characters their own. It looked as if everyone had a blast making this movie, which is always nice to see.
At the centre of the film is the relationship between Carl and his son, Percy. Carl must prove to his son, and himself, that he is more than capable of balancing both his personal life and his professional one. Favreau perfectly captures the right balance between comedy and drama, never overdoing it with either and avoiding clichéd slapstick humour that is now a hallmark of the typical summer comedy. The film has a surprising level of heart-warming moments, particularly between Carl and Percy. Word of advice, do not go see this film on an empty stomach. Favreau presents the viewer with so many beautiful shots of the mouth-watering food his character prepares that I found myself questioning my vegetarian beliefs quite a lot throughout the film. The only problem to be found within this film is that it lacks conflict in the final act, but when the film is this fun and you don’t feel the time passing, who cares?
Verdict: Favreau has used all the right ingredients, including a killer cast and witty script, to serve up what has to be one of the best feel-good movies of the summer. Funny, charming and an all round crowd pleaser with an uplifting message at its core. Favreau is definitely not in a “creative rut” any longer.
By Alex O’Meara