Thursday, May 29, 2014

Film Review: "Chef" with spoilers

Someone said it was fun, so I decided to see "Chef", with little prior information.  I can see why it could become popular, because there are some real pluses--it being, to some extent, a rather joyous romp celebrating common  human foibles, social media, high energy music, food as art and comfort, and an all-round likeable cast.

The good news was that the men in this film loved cooking.  That our chef looked like he was going to keel over from high cholesterol or die of a heart attack at any moment did not deter this lively fantasy of a film, or its hordes of athletic, sexy, thin eaters depicted as fanatically desiring these death-dealing cholesterol bombs.   No salads, oh no, not this film.  No vegetables.  Rich deserts abound, though.  Bar-b-que, whole dead pigs, marinated meat, dairy, and white bread, depicted as Latino comfort food.  Watching this film, the pack of aging, over-weight, middle-aged men of this world will feel hope that the babes will still go for them despite their paunches. 

The depicted world is plump with suggestions that are far removed from any reality I've even known.  All real chefs (and even their assistants) are males, young boys are technical wizards, it doesn't matter how overweight men become, women look good, don't gain weight, and love their men no matter what.  In my world, skewed in the other direction, only the women cook and get fat.  And the young men decidedly do NOT appreciate them for either.

As a purely escapist romp, it succeeds.  As a celebration of grossly unhealthy comfort food (that will kill you, but let's don't talk about that), it succeeds.  As something that will remain in my mind for longer than the ten minutes it takes to write the review, it fails.  It is what it is.   If you don't eat meat, are dieting, or value honesty about food, money or sex, or even if you're an intelligent female, be cautioned about what you'll find.

I have to hand it to this film, though.  It is remarkable in that: 1) No one dies.  2) No one gets sick.  3) No guns are depicted.  4) No one smokes (except once, in a bar), and 5) Nothing blows up.  It is by far less violent than the average film.  There are no explicit sex scenes.  So its overall enjoyability, despite my objections, goes up pretty high just by comparison to the average and disgusting amount of violence and explicit sex depicted in almost every film being made today.

Finally, Dustin Hoffman is in it!  And he plays a not-so-nice guy, to the hilt as always.  It's almost worth seeing just for Dustin.

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