Monday, May 4, 2015

Don't thank me till you've seen it.

When you close your eyes and think of your father, is he always wearing the same thing? Mine is. For the better part of two decades, I only ever saw my dad in the same clothes, seemingly without regard to the time of day or season. Black pants and a white, long-sleeved jacket. Oh, and let's not forget the best part: the overly tall paper hat.

Growing up in and around kitchens, it was hard for me to do anything other than adore 2014's Chef. Throw on top of that my healthy appetite for all things Jon Favreau and this becomes a truly conflict-free experience. That's a good thing, right? Well...

If you had just finished a tasty meal at a nice restaurant, you'd likely only be concerned with getting the check and getting on with your evening. You hardly give a damn about the highly orchestrated Hell (and slight debauchery) of the kitchen. On the surface, a nice time was had by all, but in the back of the house, fires were started and wars were waged. For me, that's idea perfectly encapsulates Chef. As much as I enjoyed nearly everything about it, I did, it's just oddly problem free. It's not all-good all the time, but it's pretty damn close.

Carl Casper is a good chef. He works at a good restaurant, has a good crew working with him. But after a scathing review labels him as safe, his career becomes anything but. After a public meltdown goes viral, not to mention a cock fight with the restaurant's owner, Carl's out of a job, maybe even out of touch.

Enter Inez, his ridiculously sexy ex-wife (Sofia Vergara, certainly dialing down the crazy, while definitely maintaining the sexy), who, after some prodding, convinces Carl to fly to Miami with her, so that their son can see his grandfather (she has to work, so Carl will be watching the kid). Also part of the deal, is an arranged meeting with Inez' ex, Marvin (Robert Downey, Jr., with a day free), who may or may not provide Carl with a food truck, that Carl may or may not drive back to Cali, slinging delicious eats along the way.

Equal parts road-trip movie and old-guy-does-it-his-way flick, Chef is a really sweet film. Wonderfully shot (and with the most extensive [exhausting?] soundtrack I've ever heard) and filled with great actors playing good people, I'd be shocked if you didn't find something to love about it. For me, each scene evoked some tiny connection to my dad - so clearly, I was devouring each frame with my hands. The wife, too (though to be fair, with the proper cutlery). Favs once again creates something I want to be a part of, and I will forever tip my hat to the man because of it.

Something that's become a part of me, are the Yays and Boos. Maybe one day these two will do something useful like cook a meal, but I'd be just as happy if they'd do the dishes afterward, you know?

This is the exact moment that ScarJo realizes...
...she isn't the hottest woman in the film.
  • A kitchen full of tattooed alcoholics? What is this a documentary?
  • I say this all the time, but what a friggin' cast this one has. I didn't need to no any more after Favs and Vergara, but it just keeps going. 
  • That skeleton puppet thing should probably get its own movie, right?
  • I thought that Casper's son, Percy, was going to end up being Movie Kid (aka Whiny Turd), but he ended up being a pretty solid young man. Well played, Favs. Well played, indeed.
  • What a great soundtrack! Sexual Healing is yet another first-ballot inductee into the Soundtrack Hall of Fame, assuming one actually exists. 
  • Why should I f--k Twitter?
  • The chicken or the egg? There are certain scenes where, if you close your eyes, you will be utterly convinced the person on screen talking is that tall drink of water, Vince Vaughn. There's no doubt in my mind about this.
  • I was very relieved when John Leguizamo didn't turn into Guy We Formerly Trusted But Ended Up a Huge Piece of Shit. Here, to my great relief, he just plays Good Friend.
  • And finally, in a move that my own father would have done (or more likely, actually did), let me give a stern nod of approval to the scene where Percy is willing to serve a sandwich that is less than perfect, and Casper's resulting indignation. It's a fantastic little battle of youthful indifference v. old school pride, perfectly captured by Favs. For people who have dedicated their life to preparing and serving food, there is no it's just a sandwich. Not even close. The sooner the kid realizes it, the better. Because trust me, you're not going to win that battle. 
This is my dad's expression whenever I ask him anything in the kitchen.
  • I really did love that soundtrack. I wonder if I could get a hold of the 18 CD collection...
  • Dude, that was a tough spot to put Tony in (though I love the advice, Be a pro, okay?).
  • The eventual MAJOR CONFLICT between father and son was, I suppose like all battles waged with an eleven year-old, ridiculously silly. It's not that I have a problem with it really, but it seemed out of for character for the kid. Good thing a trip to the Kitchen Supply Store cures all!
  • What the Hell was with Officer Friendly? Alright, bro, we'll move the truck. Get your goddamn camera out of here.
  • Corn starch on the balls? The only Boo is that I haven't done this. Ever. Yet.
  • My wife: Is something bad going to happen? Me: You're still awake?
  • And finally, bloggers. Holy shit are these guys assholes. They pound away at their shitty little keyboards, destroying the work of those who work infinitely harder. F--k those guys. F--k anyone who even makes the slightest negative comment in regard to the work of a passionate professional. Oh, and f--k irony, too. 
Part of the reason this blog exists, is so that if my son ever needs to, he can quickly be reminded of the man his dad was. Within a few minutes of thumbing through Two Dollar Cinema, he'll be able to, for better or worse, get a glimpse into the way his dad operated. And while my own father never started a blog (at least one that I follow [kidding]), rewatching Chef is all I'll ever need.

Assuming tall, paper hats aren't available that is.


  1. I love what you filed this movie under. I really enjoyed this. You're right about the kid, I thought he'd be annoying too but he was pretty great. I was starving after this movie though. I wanted a 5 star entree after watching this. Great review!

    1. Ha, thanks. I appreciate the fact that you even bother to mention the 'file under' nonsense, as sometimes it actually takes me a minute to come up with those little bits of idiocy.

      Anyway, I'm glad you liked this one, too. Such a good flick, I can't imagine anyone not really getting behind it. And the kid? Yeah...totally could've gone the way of Anakin Skywalker, but instead, ended up as something likable.

      (I'm always hungry, but this movie made it worse).

  2. First, I loved this.

    Second, corn starch should happen.

    Third, and most important, Scarlett Johansson is ALWAYS the hottest women in a film.

    1. First, I agree with you. So much to love.

      Second, no. Well, okay, fine. Yes.

      Third, and obviously MOST important, no. Vergara in a landslide. Ay, papi!