For my first review (about Jupiter Ascending), I mentioned how we watch movies at our house; that most of the movies are rentals and are watched either with a finger on the skip button or in little chunks over many days. That means that I generally will not write one of these until the movie has been out for six months. But the point of this review is not to talk about the critical aspects of the movie, but rather what we can gather from the movie as a “Parable.” This might offend some – the idea that I am looking at a “secular” movie to draw inspiration from – but the point is that we can find the beneficial in all kinds of things!
That brings me to this movie, Chef. Now, I am a fan of Jon Favreau from Iron Man and Avengers as a producer and actor. Some of his other stuff [read: Entourage] I am just meh about. I have to say that while I have sort of been wanting to watch this movie, I have been putting it off. I was concerned that there was too much “drama” in it; that it would turn out to be almost bi-polar in nature. I. Was. Wrong. The movie is essentially about a man who has poured his life into being an awesome executive chef at a premiere Los Angeles bistro. His staff (John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Bobby Cannavale) adores him and his boss (Dustin Hoffman) has become famous because of him. However, because of this deep passion, his family (Sofía Vergara, Emjay Anthony) has been alienated by his success. All of this changes through a series of events involving an outspoken food critic (Oliver Platt) in which he ends up the owner of a food truck and the accidental sensation of Twitter. The remainder of the movie is a type of “all good things” story.
OMG, yes. I am not really sure where to start, but I am going to quickly highlight two or three areas.
First, this story reminds us the importance of passion. To watch Carl Casper (Favreau) work on his craft and perfect it while maintaining a love for the product is an example of balance in a Christian’s life. To remain passionate about our love for the Father and for the people on this “third rock” yet to pour our hearts into actual, physical training, commitment, and dare I say, “work” is something that we have yet to do. To know that we can, as being Christ-like, show the radiance of God through the passions that he puts in our hearts is just simply something to be longed for. To see Chef Casper shop for ingredients that are in season reminds me of the loaves and fishes where Jesus used what was available, not what wasn’t. All of this passion being poured into something almost made me ashamed. . . Almost (I don’t do shame).
Second is, however, a cautionary tale. Because of this dedication, Chef Casper alienated those that he probably wanted to be close to him in his passion. He was divorced; his only son looking for a connection to him. Amazing, isn’t it, that in the middle of our passion, we forget that we are here to share this for the relationship, not for just the craft. That in the end, it all goes back to how we impact the lives of those around us. In that, we almost push away those closest to us to, somehow, reach those further away! But, in an amazing set of events, circumstances not only reunite but improve the relationships by reinvigorating the reason for the passion – to be able to touch peoples lives. Chef Casper realizes that he can include his son and his best friend in this epic journey called “El Jefe’s Food truck.” He is able to share his passion with his son and create a generational gift through it.
Finally, and I think is most important, is that Chef shows we were created to be creators. The whole downward spiral begins when Chef Casper is forced into doing the same menu over and over for 10 years which leads to a terrible online review. The restaurant owner, Riva (Hoffman), threatens Chef Casper with termination if he doesn’t blindly follow the winning formula. This concept of forgoing creativity because we “know the formula” struck a chord with me on many levels. In the local church, we need to get back to innovation and the “new.” Yes, God never changes, but who are we to think we know all of God? All of His vast creative nature? We, as inhabitants of this Earth, still “discover” new species every year and yet we think we know God when it comes to how we run our Sunday services? How arrogant of us! On another note, this screams to me that business and organizations still have more creativity locked up. As Christians, we should be seeking the heavenly storehouses of creativity for the next revolutionary wave! And, as an individual, it is important to me to remain creative and not allow “creativity thieves” to sneak in. When we say, “Lord, make us like You” do we also know this means an infilling of creativity? Let’s remember that we are creative in our nature!
So, yes, this movie is rated R. This movie is also rated R for a reason – it tends to express the stress around being a chef and the language that might be prevalent in that industry. There is also some scenes that, while not explicit, are suggestive. However, that being said, I truly thought this was a great movie. The content and character of the movie was wonderful and the soundtrack was killer. I would suggest that adults watch this movie and focus on the positives, however, it took us three days and many “stops” of the movie in order to watch with the kids around. Enjoy the movie.