CHEF REVIEW

Chef-Film

Jon Favreau cooks up another treat, a little overcooked and missing a little seasoning. This meal may be a little overhyped but a treat none the same.

Don’t worry, there will be more food punnery somewhere. Overall, not bad. An easy going, nice film. Makes a change to have an upbeat movie. The only problem is that it may be too nice and gets absorbed too much in it’s running length and preparation that it forgets to deliver the dessert (There we go) or in my case, drama or conflict.

The film is about . . . let me guess, a chef? Come on, stop it now. A chef (Favreau) who loses his restaurant job starts up a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative premise, while piecing back together his estranged family. Favreau plays a likeable lead and the initial preparation in which we see his character’s relationship with his son and torn obligations between cooking the set menu and being creative makes for a watchable, if a little long, opener. However, once he ends up getting into a Twitter feud with a pestilent food critic (Oliver Platt) and has a Gordon Ramsey-esque meltdown, it all kicks off.

Favreau has a fantastic cast at its fingertips. Dustin Hoffman plays the arrogant owner to perfection. Scarlett Johansson is hot . . . What? And plays a restricted supporting role but pulls off the tattooed dark brunette look. Platt doesn’t really get to say much as Favreau’s chef lays into him before he has a chance. A shame as we know Platt could have done more with that role. His grimacing and face pulling were convincing, if that’s any comfort. Sofia Vergara (you may remember her from Modern Family) was surprisingly not irritating at all. I expected her to be whining and yelling like Gloria. Nope, a much more subdued role and to be honest, I wanted to see more of her. Not like that . . . well a little.

The main focus is on Favreau finding his passion again but also restoring his relationship with his son (Emjay Anthony). Anthony and Fav work well together and there are some nice moments. One critic did mention how this film was like food porn and my word, some of the dishes that are prepared, I was sweating and panting. My lord. Anyway, moving on. John Leguizamo and Bobby Cannavale (Boardwalk Empire) plays Fav’s knuckle head sous-chefs well. Leguizamo, in particular, proves yet again to be a good supporting choice. He doesn’t quite get enough of the laughs or time that his character deserves.

The only problem is the length for me dragged in parts. Once they have got on the road with the truck and served a few people, it gets repetitive. Mainly because everything is all tickety boo. No real drama along the way. Vergara is very supportive. Every one is getting on. The police appear at one point but only in the form . . . of the hilarious comedian Russell Peters. His Lady and the Tramp pic with Fav brought a chuckle. It’s all too nicey, nicey. Favreau seems to suddenly realise at the end. Hang on, can’t make it that easy. Let’s throw a quick spanner in the works but still make it alright in the end. It leaves little in plot development or surprises and gets a little predictable.

But it does keep you watching. The scenery and the dishes look fantastic. There are some funny moments. Robert Downey Jr makes a five minute, if slightly overhyped, cameo. He does deliver the laughs with him bumbling and baffling poor Fav. Friends doing what they do best. A nice touch.

The whole social media jibe worked really well, especially in this day and age with Favreau failing to understand the impact of one tweet and the issue of becoming a viral phenomenon. Favreau’s previous works have always seemed to suffer from either an overlong pace with little story or too much story and not enough pace. This was a mish mesh. Started off with a story but then the pace dragged it out that for a certain moment, I felt I was just watching two chefs work. But it’s not all bad. Chef is a nice movie to look at but just not as tasty as you hoped. Still worth a bite or two. 3/5

Currently ranked 63 out of 196!

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LEGO MOVIE REVIEW

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Everything in this is AWESOME. Finally, a fun family movie, not without it’s imperfections, but enjoyable none the less. 3D makes certain scenes stand out but not a MUST. Apart from that, the makers behind the equally brilliant Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs have assembled a hit.

Basically, the plot follows Emmet (Chris Pratt), an oblivious construction worker who is mistaken for the ‘most extraordinary person’ in all of the LEGO universe, and according to an old prophecy, must defeat the evil tyrant with the best bad guy name . . . Lord Business (That one got a tweet out of Michael Moore), voiced by the legend that is Will Ferrell, who is plotting to destroy the world with his secret weapon, the Kragle (brilliant. When you see what it is). The animation is brilliant, considering it is LEGO. The detail and the fun it pokes at the limited movements of the LEGO pieces is hilarious. The fact they make great expressions with their little black eyes is nicely done and the action pieces although rapid are great to watch.

The cast are fantastic. Chris Pratt is on form as naive dimwit Emmet. Morgan Freeman providing his infamous voice and gravitas to the senial wizard Vitruvius. Will Ferrell grumbling and picking at the craziness of it all as the sinister Lord Business, President of the Octan Corporation . . . and the entire world. Elizabeth Banks as the loveable rogue Wyldstyle who is tasked with protecting Emmet (“Come with me with you wanna NOT die”). However, cudos must be awarded to the supporting characters. Will Arnett’s (The Millers, Arrested Development) LEGO Batman is hilarious. His dark love song being a personal highlight.

Charlie Day (Horrible Bosses) as Benny, the bonkers 80s LEGO astronaut guy (SPACESHIP!). Alison Brie (Trudy from Mad Men?!) as the bi-polar Unikitty, who unhealthily bottles up her negative thoughts and last not but least, “I don’t have much money, but particular skills legend” that is Liam Neeson as the two faced good cop, bad cop was fantastic. Such a surprise to see the huge cast attached to this and that they can all poke fun at themselves. Don’t look at IMDb if you want to guess them.

There was an unexpected twist near the end that dipped the film a little bit. It worked but I couldn’t help but feel that it was a slight rip off of another animated hit, hint hint, cough, The Spongebob Squarepants Movie. As usual, some of the better bits are in the trailer. But it zips along at a great pace, keeping it light and fun. I was impressed with the clever satire they put in as well. The fact that Emmet is completely unaware he is under the rule of a dictatorship with propaganda everywhere. Most annoyingly so, in the incredibly catchy song Everything is Awesome by Tegan and Sara featuring the Lonely Island. 3D is not neccesarily an investment for this. A couple of bits stand out with the lasers and machinery but not a must. The animation would look just as good as in 2D.

Do you like Lego? Do you like the games? Then this is for you. Is it fun? Absolutely. One the family will enjoy? I don’t see why not. Hardly a classic but a fresh take that stands out from the churned out family movies these last few years. Get on it. 4 pieces (just) out of 5!

Currently ranks #25 out of 141!