Posted by Michael Flores | Movies, What's Free Wednesday

Lots of Fetchland readers already subscribe to services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, or even Marvel Unlimited.

… Which begs the question: When you have access to an almost limitless plethora of entertainment options, which ones should you pick?

“What’s Free Wednesday” is a weekly Fetchland feature spotlighting something great to read or watch available on one or more entertainment services. “Free” once you’ve paid for it, if you grok 😉

Chef

Free on:

  • Amazon Prime
  • Netflix

Sometimes you just want to see a feelgood movie that’s smart and captivating… but still actually entertaining. Chef hits all these targets! By virtue of its title you’d think Chef might appeal mainly to foodies but it’s for everyone. It’s not deep in the gourmand realm like Babette’s Feast or Big Night but there’s still plenty of food porn for the eater in all of us.

Jon Favreau goes back to his indie roots with this one, writing, directing and starring – like a boss. Chef feels small but combines several movie genres with ease including: feelgood comedy, road movie, and even upstart-becomes-underdog a-la Jerry Maguire. The charismatic amalgam of stars like Sofia Vergara, Bobby Cannavale, Scarlett Johannson, and John Leguizamo add spice to this already delicious story.

Appropriately titled, this is truly the tale of a chef; Jon Favreau’s character, Carl, is happiest in the kitchen. He loves what he does especially when there’s nobody telling him what to cook. Unfortunately, he works for an old school restaurateur who keeps the menu on ice – as in back to the ice age. Carl’s got dreams about serving pork belly, figuring out Twitter, and winning over the food critic who’s soured on him over the years – Oliver Platt. He’s also got a ten year old son he’s been semi-ignoring over the years who ends up Carl’s social media angel as the story rolls deep into the Interwebs.

Though generally a realistic story anyway, the tipping point scenes in Chef are welcome doses of uber reality. The first is when Carl completely loses it screaming at the reviewer while oblivious to a multitude of cell phones recording the spectacle. This is the scene where Carl wakes from his upstart slumber and realizes he’s being held back creatively by working for the man – in this case Dustin Hoffman in the tiniest role imaginable. That’s it for Carl! He straps on his rocket propulsion boots ready to change his whole life, bootstraps and all. Another great awakening happens soon after when Carl and his son clean their future food truck of the hardened filth crust from its former inhabitants. Suddenly we see how the kitchen work ethic can translate to parenting lessons that last a lifetime when he later explains to his son that he earned his chef’s knife and nobody can ever take it away.

Chef takes off a fabulous foray from this point on, crossing the southern states in a food truck named El Jefe. Carl and son sell scrumptious cuban sandwiches from El Jefe arousing a litany of tweets with each sale. Carl’s sandwiches gain social media momentum thanks to the savvy of his son who’s also surreptitiously making vines of all their artisanal escapades. He’s only ten, officially their marketing guru, traveling cross country, and bonding with Dad like a bro – it’s a tween dream. Along the way the El Jefe food truck establishes such a following that by the time they reach their final destination, LA, the town’s rolling out those Hollywood red carpets for them.

The characters are the most refreshing aspect of Chef and not just because they’re captivating in their respective roles. There’s been a trend lately in movies where tons of characters are just nasty for little reason related to story and it gets old pretty fast for those of us still clinging to Anne Frank’s winsome words about people really being good inside. The antidote for this loathsome practice lies in Chef where the people are hilariously funny without being mean; in fact they’re especially awesome. Carl happens to be blessed with the coolest most beautiful ex wife in the world, the sexiest girlfriend, and the world’s friendliest and true blue coworkers. It’s packed with good eggs and that makes it all the more fun to go along the ride with Carl.

The exuberant soundtrack also gives this flick a delightful boost – an effervescent mix of cultures that perfectly augments the colorful food and feelings onscreen. The scenes where Carl cooks and all we hear is the pan sizzle and music are some of the most delightful screen moments thanks to these carefully selected songs. A fantastic date night movie, there’s a big bow on top of Chef at the end, so if you like your conclusions tied up in the neatest, most perfect packages – you know what to watch next on Netflix or Amazon Prime.

–Katherine Recap

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