"Chef" is the food movie for the food truck era, a film that doesn't appear to be headed for classic status in the vein of "Big Night" or "Eat Drink Man Woman," but which taps into the zeitgeist in an assertive, interesting way.
Jon Favreau steps away from big budget filmmaking to write, direct and star as celebrity chef Carl Casper, who loses his job at a high-end restaurant after lashing out at a critic on Twitter. He sets out to reclaim his career by starting a truck and driving it from Miami to Los Angeles.
Favreau is an accomplished director, having helmed "Iron Man" and "Elf" among other massive hits, and he has a sixth sense for this sort of smooth, commercial entertainment.
The movie hits predictable beats but moves quickly, offering a wealth of character-driven charm in the form of Carl's interactions with his son Percy (Emjay Anthony) and best friend/sous-chef Martin (John Leguizamo), and featuring an abundance of utterly mouthwatering cooking.
It's also a movie of the here-and-now, with an aesthetic that resembles a Food Network show in its realistic grasp of the milieu, plus a keen awareness of the pitfalls facing modern celebrities and a family-first sensibility that hits home.