Jon Favreau’s last two directorial outings – Iron Man 2 and Cowboys & Aliens – prompted a number of complaints about how the films suffered from studio interference and having to serve too many masters, which gave rise to bland final products with little exciting flavor. That his next project, the indie Chef, revolves around a kitchen artist whose boss wants him to serve up generic dishes instead of edible concoctions that he is truly passionate about making, well, that’s probably not an accident.
Favreau wrote, directed, and stars in Chef, about a divorced LA cook who sets out to reignite his creative spark, with assistance from his ex-wife (Sofia Vergara) and her wealthy new husband (Robert Downey Jr.), as well as encouragement from his co-workers, like his buddy John Leguizamo and his part-time lover Scarlett Johansson. Such are the benefits of being the director, when you cast yourself in your own movie and bring along your celebrity friends for the ride.
The first clip from Chef dropped online a month or so ago, but now a proper for the trailer is available for viewing. Said theatrical preview recycles some of that same footage from before (see: Favreau’s ill-advised Tweet in response to a damning review by an irate food critic, played by Oliver Platt) while also offering a basic, yet thorough outline of the film’s straight-forward narrative, in addition to showcasing even more of the improvisatory banter that is Favreau’s calling card (going back to even before his Swingers days in the late 1990s).
The positive critical blurbs in the Chef trailer are from reviews written by those who caught the movie earlier this year, when it premiered at the 2014 SXSW Film Conference and Festival. As indicated before, the subtext of Favreau’s latest project seems to be pretty transparent, yet early reviews like Variety‘s argue that the film is “something far too entertaining to be dismissed as self-indulgence,” no matter what the intention was behind making it. Other reviews agree that this is the first Favreau project since Iron Man where his enthusiasm properly shines through, as Geek Nation writes “To paraphrase someone in the film, it seems like Favreau is cooking for himself again.”
Such claims are encoring to hear, considering that Favreau will return to the world of mainstream tentpoles with Disney’s The Jungle Book arriving in 2015 (and possibly the studios’ Magic Kingdom movie after that). Whatever else the future may bring, it seems we have a fun Favreau dramedy to look forward to this year.
Chef opens in U.S. theaters on May 9th, 2014.