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A Chef Off the Old Block

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If you are a Food Channel regular and a devotee of Chopped you will love Chef. It's a far cry from reality TV, but it thrives off the same impulse of turning food preparation into an athletic competition. Chef is also a road move which should appeal to followers of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. But it goes one step further by making one of its lead characters an on-line celebrity critic named Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt), who uses social media to either elevate or excoriate his marks. Oliver Platt might have been helped in researching his role by the fact that his brother happens to be the well-known New York Magazine critic, Adam Platt. At one point the chef, Carl Casper (Jon Favreau), whose hipster personality derives from the same mold as Guy Fieri of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, responds to Michel's barbs by saying "You wouldn't know a good meal if it sat on your face." Casper's young son Percy (Emjay Anthony), whose mother Inez (Sofia Vergara) strategically places her son in his father's charge, has unfortunately just taught his father about Twitter. His adversary responds in kind by saying, "I would rather have you sit on my face after a brisk walk on a warm day than have to suffer through that fucking lava cake again" and the whole exchange goes viral. Carl loses his job because of the exchange (one of his only prospects is to appear on a reality TV show called Hell's Kitchen), but gains a lot of followers, a tight little conceit from which the rest of the movie devolves. So here is the recipe for Chef, take Vittorio De Sica's classic Bicycle Thief, about a father and son left to their own devices, add a pinch of The Social Network and take your pick of any number of romantic comedies about estranged lovers who are reunited et bien "voila!"

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This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.