Writer-director-star Jon Favreau takes a break from big-budget, effects-heavy fare of the Iron Man ilk and goes back to basics for this light and fluffy but utterly charming little movie about a disaffected chef who rediscovers his passion for cooking and life.
Favreau’s Carl Casper is an LA restaurant star but feels in a creative rut. His boss (Dustin Hoffman) wants him to churn out the same old hit dishes night after night and won’t let him try anything new. So when Oliver Platt’s waspish food critic – who makes Ratatouille’s Anton Ego look like a pushover – pans his cooking, he quits his job in a fit of pique.
Heading back to Miami, where he first made his name, he acquires a food truck with help from his ex-wife (Sofia Vergara) and another of her exes (Robert Downey Jr) and takes to the road with his previously neglected 10-year-old son Percy (Emjay Anthony) and loyal friend Martin (John Leguizamo). Percy’s social media expertise – a playfully animated flying bluebird takes flight every time he tweets – soon has queues of punters forming; Carl’s appetite for cooking returns; and the critics applaud.
Substitute films for food, and the autobiographical impulse behind Favreau’s film is immediately clear. But he has evidently poured so much passion and joy into the project that you can forgive him the self-indulgence. A warm-hearted generosity runs through the film, making it easy to see why so many of Favreau’s famous friends were happy to appear in cameo roles – Scarlett Johansson is in there, too. And they have helped Favreau cook up a film that is deliciously sweet, funny and touching. A mouth-watering treat.
Certificate 12A. Runtime 97 mins. Directors Jon Favreau.
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