Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

'Chef' First Look: Favreau's Indie Road Movie is Food Porn (NEW POSTER, TRAILER)

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood April 7, 2014 at 2:53PM

Writer-director Jon Favreau took his scruffy indie crowdpleaser to SXSW and now the family movie about food is heading for theaters. Open Road will open the film starring Favreau, Scarlett Johansson, Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo, Dustin Hoffman and Robert Downey, Jr. on May 9. "I shoot food like Michael Bay shoots babes in bikinis," says Favreau. See new trailer and full poster below.
0
'Chef'
'Chef'

Writer-director Jon Favreau took his scruffy indie crowdpleaser to SXSW and now the family movie about food is heading for theaters. Open Road will open the film starring Favreau, Scarlett Johansson, Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo, Dustin Hoffman and Robert Downey. Jr. on May 9. See new trailer and full poster below. (Here's our review and roundup.)

Favreau is a huggable bear of man who wears his insecurities on his sleeve, so it makes sense that his return to scruffy indie filmmaking, "Chef," shows the same qualities. An eight-page outline came to the writer-director in a flash. He showed it to his friends and they encouraged him to write a full script, which he then enlisted his agency CAA to help finance. Many of his "Iron Man" pals--Robert Downey, Jr. and Scarlett Johansson have small roles--helped him out for SAG minimum, along with ace comedic actors Dustin Hoffman, Bobby Cannavale, Oliver Platt, and John Leguizamo. "Nobody got paid anything," said Favreau at the SXSW Paramount opening night premiere. "This felt like it wanted to happen. Every once in a while it clicks." 

Born in Queens, Favreau started out making his living as a funny character actor and occasional screenwriter and director — which turned out to be his forte, from family flick “Zathura" and Christmas comedy "Elf" to the "Iron Man" movies. "Cowboys & Aliens," however, was a misguided western/sci-fi hybrid that even Favreau could not pull off. 

Favreau, 47, made his mark in 1996 as the writer and co-star, with pal Vince Vaughn, of Doug Liman’s hipster hit “Swingers.” Off that, Favreau scored more acting gigs (“Deep Impact,” TV’s “Rocky Marciano”), directed TV movies (“Smog,” “Life on Parole”) and produced and hosted the IFC celebrity talk show “Table for Five.” He also wrote and directed his first indie feature, the 2001 gangster comedy “Made,” co-starring Vaughn, which landed him a gig directing New Line Cinema’s 2003 holiday comedy “Elf.” The $33 million movie was another surprise smash, grossed $173 million and launched Will Ferrell’s career as a comedy star.

“Elf” also established Favreau as a seriously gifted director. But he knew that to make the best of his move from the indie minors to the big show, he must choose wisely. For a time, acting took a back seat to directing, though Favreau did agree to co-star in Vaughn’s production “The Break-Up,” and plays a supporting role in the "Iron Man" series as Tony Stark's bodyguard.  He likes being on control, you see. And to his agency’s chagrin, Favreau turned down a tall stack of comedy scripts. 

Sticking to his beloved sci-fi fantasy universe worked out for director Favreau--except for "Cowboys & Aliens." But clearly, directing high-stakes big-budget tentpoles has taken its toll on the man. Before heading back to that universe with Warner Bros.' "The Jungle Book," based on Rudyard Kipling's wonderful Indian stories (about Mowgli the human wolf cub, Bagheera the panther, Baloo the bear, and the dangerous tiger Shere Khan), he indulged himself with a feel-good low-budget comedy that mixed his food obsessions with his conflicts about parenting. 

Much like James L. Brooks' "Spanglish" or Pixar's "Ratatouille," Favreau throws his issues with critics, career insecurity, his weight, social media, and parenting into a messy road movie with his 10-year-old son. Ironically, while his Luddite chef Carl Casper gets into trouble on the internet --this movie plays like a product placement for Twitter--Favreau is an ace tweeter with 1.66 million followers.

"I shoot food like Michael Bay shoots babes in bikinis," Favreau told me at the rooftop opening night party at the Mohawk in Austin, where Gary Clarke, Jr. performed, as he does in the movie. Also at the party was Koreatown chef and Anthony Bourdain fave Roy Choi, who consulted on how to make authentic this world of grilled cheese and sausage sandwiches and gourmet food trucks. Choi said that most movies make kitchens look "too pretty. You don't have bell peppers stacked in pyramids. We wanted to show real life, down and dirty, plastic deli containers."

I recommend seeing the movie on a full stomach--Favreau admitted to using "Eat Drink Man Woman" as a model for how to make audiences salivate. 

This article is related to: Chef, Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson


E-Mail Updates