If you are a fan of cooking shows and food looking fabulous, this movie could be right up your alley. Jon Favreau obviously did a lot of research into his role as Chef Carl who is the executive chef at a fancy restaurant that quits his job after being forced to cook from what he considers a stale menu instead of the food he wants to create. He goes off and finds his cooking passion again and starts cooking out of a food truck. He also reconnects with his kid that he has ignored since his divorce. Those are things that this movie does well, but it also meanders a lot, forgets about characters halfway through it and just has an odd tacked-on ending.
The movie starts off well with showing how Chef Carl has been successful at the restaurant that he doesn’t own, but does run the kitchen. His personal life doesn’t seem to be in the best space since he’s divorced from Inez (Sofia Vergara) for unknown reasons, which even his son is confused why his parents are no longer together. The reasons given to him don’t help much. There seems to be no animosity between the two of them so it becomes a weird relationship in the movie. Chef Carl also seems to be dating the hostess of the restaurant, Molly (Scarlett Johansson), but I’m not completely positive. Besides one really long scene of her watching him make her pasta back at his place, she is only in the movie for the first half. Then she just disappears!
There is also a random scene with Robert Downey Jr. as the first ex-husband of Inez where he is going to give Carl money to get a food truck. I know Favreau and Downey have a relationship from the Iron Man movies, but the scene just seems plopped into the movie for really no good reason. Maybe to create some tension between Carl and Inez later on, but it is some pretty lame tension.
The movie did seem like it wanted to make a point about social media and it loved it a lot, including a whole tutorial on how to use Twitter, and at the same time, how not to use Twitter. It was so constant that I actually looked up to see if Twitter had paid product placement for this movie. It didn’t, but it did seem a bit overboard.
The only way the movie really clicked was watching Favreau reconnect with his son. He would try to push him away because he was busy with work, but eventually figured out a way to let him in and get to know him. I believe that was the only thing that saved the movie from the halfway point to the end. The main plot of the movie seemed to wrap itself up as soon as he got a food truck. There were no other obstacles for him. Everything just worked out and we were left to watch this truck drive from Miami to Los Angeles with stops in New Orleans and Austin on the way. There wasn’t really anything happening during those stops in the movie besides very small father/son bits. I feel like those parts could have been incorporated back into the overall plot about him quitting his job as an executive chef and starting a food truck.
With no real problems or anything going wrong with his new job choice, the movie meandered until it just stopped. An offer he gets at the end of the movie and his decision about it doesn’t make much sense when you consider why he quit his job at the beginning of the movie. Then, there is an epilogue that comes out of nowhere and was really unnecessary. It also pointed out how much the characters in the movie really weren’t developed beyond Carl and his son. While I loved looking at the food in this movie, it really didn’t have much going on. He did make one really awesome looking grilled cheese sandwich though.