Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Maybe I am one of the last people in America to see that delicious movie, "Chef," but maybe that's okay: I saw it when I most needed to. It's a Jon Favreau concoction (he wrote it, directed it, stars in it, produced it). It's Roy Choi influenced, cubano-sandwich powered, infiltrated by actors I love—Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey, Jr., Dustin Hoffman, Bobby Cannavale, John Leguizamo, Oliver Platt, Sofia Vergara. It yields wide patches of time to the fabulous young actor Emjay Anthony. It explores what happens when one's safe world implodes and there is nothing left to lose. You have a job as a chef in a fine restaurant? You have a beautiful girlfriend, an ex-wife who loves you, a little boy who thinks the world of you, security? It all blows up after a bad restaurant critic's review, and you fought back over Twitter? Boom. What are you going to do? Maybe you'll go small. You'll start a food truck.
Affection, humor, tenderness, food you can practically eat off the screen—it is abiding in "Chef." But resiliency is the film's primary theme. Getting back up after someone's been unkind to you, after the unfair thing has happened, after you lose your decorum, your reputation, your holdings in the blink of a Twitter eye. What is the trajectory of second chances? That is what "Chef" is about.
We're out here as writers, and some critics will be unkind. We're out here doing our service jobs, and the person on the other end of the phone has demeaning attitude, that power that comes from being the one in charge, that edge in the curl of their words. We're out here letting the lady at the ATM yell at us because she's having a bad day. We're endlessly holding our own tongues, being the better guy, stepping aside, or stepping up. But, who knows? Someday we may just blow. We may just speak our equalizing minds.
"Chef" is about the guy who blew and the guy who got it back.
It's about hope of another kind. Hope that we can be our best selves again. Hope that the world will make room.