Monday, June 2, 2014

Chef Review: Swingers, All Growns Up

One of my all-time favorite movies, is now legally, an adult. So it’s perfect, that the all growns up version was just released. Jon Favreau reclaimed all the heart, soul and sweetness that made Swingers the perfect movie for a single guy in his 20’s, and used those ingredients along with some added maturity, to cook up another gem with Chef. C’mon, I had to make some kind of cooking analogy.

Chef is the story of a famous LA chef, has a blow up in the most 2014 way possible after a negative, and personal, review from an even more famous food blogger. Beginning with a tweet war he can’t win, and ending with a viral video of a meltdown. It costs him, not just his job, but his pride. All the while, he’s unable to see just how badly his son is trying to connect with him.

With his tale between his legs, he ends up taking his ex-wife’s advice (Sofia Vegara) and opens up a food truck. He hits the road with his loyal sous chef (John Leguizamo, who should really be a bigger star by now) and his son, to find his creative edge again and the adoration of his son.

Like in Swingers, Favreau introduces us to a subculture that is much cooler than we ever thought. His music choices, as well as how he utilizes a song in a scene, is perfect. Much of it has an oddly familiar feel, only you just can’t remember where you’ve heard it before. I played the hell out of my Swingers soundtrack from 1996 through the end of the decade, and before I made it home from the movie last night, I had the Chef soundtrack playing on Spotify. Of course I was at a red light.

Making Chef, in 2014, took real courage. The world has changed an awful lot since 1996, when Swingers was an indie darling. The personal story has been replaced by well-produced, big budget comic book movies. Favreau has changed just as much, he’s no longer the fat guy you recognize from Rudy or Vince Vaughn’s wingman. Now he’s the director and producer of the best comic book movies (Iron Man, Iron Man 2. produced Iron Man 3 and Avengers). Chef is every bit as personal as Swingers, only the priorities have changed. Beautiful babies, last minute trips to Vegas, and getting over the girl have been replaced, ironically enough by responsibilities. Find a job, be a good dad, make ends meet, and get happy. Loyalty, in the grownup world, means telling someone to not follow you out the door to unemployment, but telling them to stay and take advantage of the opportunity. Keeping your rep because someone bumped into your friend and didn’t apologize, that’s for kids. And so are K-cars.

I am a notoriously picky eater, but Chef did more to make various foods appeal to me than anything else ever has. Do yourself a flavor, and go check out the feel good movie of the summer. (That has to end up on a poster, right?)

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