Jon Favreau's Chef begins with a conceit similar to Brad Bird's Ratatouille, where the task of serving a hard-to-please and often harsh food critic, cheekily named Ramsay, befalls the eponymous chef and his staff. The theme is something that would apply to just about any art form. While the restaurant owner wants the more popular stuff on the menu, our hero Carl wants to serve the critic with his more nuanced dishes which he calls "art".The critic writes a scathing review, and in the process, ends up making nasty personal remarks about Carl. Something that could apply to filmmakers and film critics as well?
It's fitting that Chefhas released alongside a Sajid Khan movie, the notorious commercial filmmaker who in the past has publicly derided critics. Carl remarks that all critics do is vomit words without ever having cooked a dish, and draws attention to the fact that his staff "works very hard." The internet fittingly forms a major device in the film, first making Carl "meme material", as he calls it, because of his public outburst against Ramsay that goes viral and then being the platform where Carl publicises his new food truck serving Cuban sandwiches.
A more ambitious film would have brought this aspect to the forefront, that of the dynamic between artists and critics, and whether one must be a good artist in order to be a good critic, a theme especially relevant in the "internet age" where everyone can create art and everyone can be a critic. Chef, on the other hand, limits itself to being a feel-good movie about the titular chef making a successful career as an independant chef after he's fired from the restaurant. Feel-good it certainly is; it has warm moments between Carl and his little son and likable characters, with the exception of the caricaturish portrayal of the critic, something that suited a movie like Ratatouille but jars in a film like Chef. Favreau has an eye for detail and a discerning sense of colour that makes the cooking montages irresistible. It's a movie that could have been a lot more had its subordinate themes been the main focus of the film but in its present form, Chef does have a pleasant presence.view less