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Review Roundup: Jon Favreau's Chef

Photo: Chef The Film/Facebook

Actor/writer/director Jon Favreau's new film Chef hits theaters tomorrow May 9 and the reviews, just like the early assessments, are mixed. Although the film currently has an 81% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, there were plenty of critics who found the movie to be bland and lacking substance. Others found that it was totally charming, funny, and provided a decently accurate portrayal of actual chefs. Regardless of whether they loved or hated it, all the critics agreed that the film's food porn was seriously beautiful. Most are predictably loaded with plenty of food metaphors. Below, check out review of Jon Favreau's Chef:

The So-So News: Anthony Lane of the New Yorker likes the food aspects but hates the film's use of tweets on the screen and "plugs" for Facebook and Vine: "'Chef' is a curiosity—porky with pleasure and wrapped in a thin rind of neediness. But it's not about eating … the real subject of 'Chef' is the Internet … This digital worship, unlike the food, is flavorless and dehumanizing, and in a few years' time it will look archaic. For now, it spoils the appetite." [New Yorker]

The Good News: Jessica Herndon of the AP enjoyed it: "From the mouth-watering carne asada to the molten chocolate cake, Jon Favreau's 'Chef' is a delectable take on an out-of-work cook who experiences career rejuvenation when traveling cross-country serving Cuban entrees on a food truck." [AP]

The Ironic News: The Village Voice's Amy Nicholson was throughly impressed with Favreau's cooking skills ("he sautés with confidence, minces with skill") but notes: "The irony is Chef is so charmingly middlebrow that it's exactly the cinematic comfort food it mocks: Favreau has made not a game-changing meal to remember, but a perfect chocolate lava cake." [Village Voice]

The So Hungry News: Stephen Holden of the New York Times writes, "Whatever else it does or doesn't do, 'Chef,' Jon Favreau's good-natured culinary comedy, works as an appetite stimulant. And where there's delicious food — plenty is shown being prepared, served and devoured — there's life." [NYT]

The Soundtrack Is Awesome News: Gary Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times writes,"The filmmaker largely eschews done-to-death family dynamics, forced obstacles and predictable responses for authentic interaction, organic humor and a hopeful vitality. (The vibrant, Latin-infused soundtrack adds much to the film's infectiousness.)" [LAT]

The Great News: Lou Lumenick of the New York Post loved it calling it "the best movie about food since Ratatouille": "It has lots of smart things to say about social media, criticism and father-son relationships — while also appealing to fans of food porn and mildly raunchy buddy movies." Three out of four stars. [NYP]

The Understands the Zeitgeist News: Robert Levin of amNY appreciates how the film understands current trends: "It's also a movie of the here-and-now, with an aesthetic that resembles a Food Network show in its realistic grasp of the milieu, plus a keen awareness of the pitfalls facing modern celebrities and a family-first sensibility that hits home." Three out of four stars. [amNY]

The Too Hollywood News: The Age had three real chefs review the film and while they liked it, they found the movie to be "a little too Hollywood" especially "the schmaltzy ending." Overall though much of it is accurate: "Favreau managed to capture the sacrifice you have to make as a chef." [The Age]

The Really Bad News: A.V. Club's A.A. Dowd didn't have many nice words about anything but the food: "Favreau, who's been a professed foodie for years, fills the frame with some of the most delectable cooking imagery since Big Night: Sandwiches sizzle against iron, pasta dishes come alive step by step, and just about every scene functions as a small feast for hungry eyes. Unfortunately, the food porn comes with a side of syrupy life lessons; this ode to family, fine dining, and getting your mojo back is saccharine enough to cause diabetes." C+. [A.V Club]

The Bland News: Time's Richard Corliss writes, "All these actors, and the audience too, deserved a better, tighter, more daring film … Chef is a dish of arroz con pollo served with a smile but not much style. The critic in the film would give it a low grade, for agreeability without ambition." [Time]

The Pleasantly Surprised News: The Wall Street Journal's Joe Morgenstern thinks the film was quite enjoyable. He writes,"Jon Favreau's comedy about food and love is very good news, and a nice surprise." He adds that the movie "has plenty of laughs, and generous helpings of warm feelings—the meat and potatoes of real life."[WSJ]

The Loaded with Food Metaphors News: Joe Neumaier of the New York Daily News writes, "This undercooked but still flavorful comedy may not have much meat to it, but the small side dishes can be a meal in themselves." The metaphors don't stop there: "The good news is that his slow simmer approach here never puts us off for too long as the camaraderie between he and his cast gives 'Chef' its mild yet tasty spice." Three out of five stars. [NYDN]

The Even More Food Metaphors News: Rolling Stone's Peter Travers is a fan of food metaphors and the film: "Buoyed by a Latin-flavored score and Favreau's knack for improv inspiration, Chef is the perfect antidote to Hollywood junk food. Like the best meals and movies, this irresistible concoction feels good for the soul." Four and a half out of five stars. [Rolling Stone]

The Pretty Bad News: Jesse Hassenger of PopMatters wasn't all that into it: "Despite a clear intended arc, though, little seems to be at stake in Chef, which combines comedy with drama in a casserole of neither." 4/10. [PopMatters]

The Needs More Substance News: Inkoo Kang of the Wrap writes, "Favreau evidently aimed to make a crowd-pleaser, but 'Chef' is like a Big Mac – it slides down too easy, too quickly. There's no feeling of substance, nothing to chew on." [The Wrap]

The That's Not Real Life News: Joshua David Stein really liked the film especially the "lovable cast of characters" when he reviewed it for Eater. His biggest issue was just how happy the ending is: "At the end of the film — which I won't give away here — everything works out. And by everything I mean everything. Every loose end in his life has been made into pretty knots, without bite nor bitter end. Well, shit, that's not how life works." Four out of five stars. [-E-]

· All Jon Favreau Coverage on Eater [-E-]
· All Chef Coverage on Eater [-E-]
· All Good News/Bad News on Eater [-E-]

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