I watched this movie with a feeling of great contentment; I had no moments of high or low emotions, no great adrenaline rush, and no kick in the stomach. It was just an awesome piece of averageness.
The actors were excellent, the storyline was believable and the food looked really REALLY good! Almost as good as Sofia Vergara. Almost.
Carl (Jon Favreau) is a middle aged chef who feels stifled by his boss (the awesome Dustin Hoffman who for some reason I keep imagining as a Mafia boss) and eventually snaps when food critic Ramsay Michel (Oliver Platt) gives a negative review of his food that goes viral.
I enjoyed the absence of outright clichés in this movie; Carl gets along with his ex-wife (Sofia Vergara) and her ex-husband (Robert Downey Jr. Who really is just in this movie for laughs and because Jon decided to cast a good number of his co-stars from the Iron Man trilogy).
There were no snarky comments as the son is driven away by dad from mom’s apartment (they even all go to Miami together).
I loved how Tony (Bobby Cannavale) does not follow Carl in the “great walking out on the boss” scene, which is a route a lot of movies would have taken. Here was a cook who had probably dreamt of running the kitchen; it makes sense that when the chance comes, he takes it. And these guys still share a drink at the end of the day showing everything is cool.
A special mention to John Leguizamo as Martin who added spice to every scene he appeared in.
Also, the movie avoids all dramatics that would force the hands of the actors like a rival cook or a great cook-out competition. There was nothing outside of the characters forcing them to do stupid things (like sabotaging food or stealing away assistant cooks) which would have made a mess of things.
I love Carl’s relationship with his son; a scene that comes to mind is when he passes him a new kitchen knife at the supermarket and makes a hilarious mini-speech about responsibility and duty because, a kitchen knife is such a great anecdote.
I love how there are no watery eyes or forlorn expression used by Percy (Emjay Anthony) to get his father’s attention, just two guys bonding while cleaning out a seriously messed up food truck.
Another great thing the movie shows, is that the internet never forgets. When Carl blows up and rages at Ramsay Michel, and crumbles perfectly good cake (why?), he doesn’t realize that a restaurant full of people with smart phones means the whole world is watching. And once it’s out there, you can never take it back.
Note: Publicity is publicity. Good or bad.
Most importantly, for a movie about food, the food was awesome looking in the frames. I never knew cheese could draw so perfectly (Nigerian pizza has lied to me) or that even the process of making food could make your mouth water. This is reminiscent of Julie and Julia (another good movie about food) where I just wanted to enter the screen and dine with them.
P.S. Scarlett Johansson was in this movie 😉