Tag Archives: film critics

Asleep in my takeout

I am fascinated by the critics’ take on the movie Chef, which is currently 88 percent fresh on RottenTomatoes.com.

I found it stale and oh-so-overcooked.

chef movie

I watch a lot of Food Network, so I had high hopes for the film’s ‘recipe’: a chef gets fired after he starts a Twitter war with a restaurant critic,  and opens a food truck.

Seems new, seems current.

Turns out all the conflict that drives the film is in the first 15 minutes.  After the chef (Jon Favreau) loses his job, everyone and everything starts working in his favor.

  • Need a food truck?  His ex-wife gets her other ex-husband to provide one.  Takes him to Miami to get it. Appears to bankroll the enterprise, too. (Sure, that happens.)
  • Need help setting it up?  His former junior cook travels across the country — without pay — to help him get started. That sainted ex-wife even takes orders at one point.
  • Need to reconnect with your kid? The ex-wife — again, the most non-confrontational divorced couple in the history of movies and life, for that matter — lets an 11-year old kid work as a line cook on a food truck for the entire summer. Without checking in. Right.

I don’t want to give away the ending in case you plan to see it.  But let’s just say that, once the food truck is parked —

Nothing really happens then, either. Or if it does, they don’t show it.

Because conflict might wake you up out of your food coma.

 

Don’t forget

I saw Water for Elephants last night at a special early screening sponsored by Living Social.  Drinks, appetizers, the movie and a coupon for the book — all for $20?

I’m in.

Full disclosure — I haven’t read the book.  During the cocktail hour before the movie, I found that most of the people there had.  And they approached the film with equal parts excitement and expectation.

Me?  I had none. I was there based on the trailer alone.  (We all agreed that was good.)

I think we all agreed on the movie as well.  When an entire theatre filled with people cheers not once, but twice at the end of a film, that’s a good sign.

If, like me, you haven’t read Water for Elephants, it’s set in the Great Depression.  An Ivy League veterinary student loses his parents and his home at the start of the film.  Forced to find his own way in the world, he hops a train which, as fate would have it, is a struggling circus.  There he finds work and love — the girl, unfortunately, is the owner’s wife.

Wouldn’t ya know?

Christoph Waltz, who won an Oscar for Inglourious Basterds, is riveting as the circus owner and ringmaster.  He is unbelievably cruel — to both people and animals — but is still able to elicit some sympathy for his actions.

[My one hesitation in seeing the film was the animal cruelty I knew would be portrayed on screen. While it was there — all CGI, no animals were hurt in the making of this film — it was not overt, and off-camera when possible.  It will still hurt your feelings, but don’t skip the movie.]

Reece Witherspoon is all platinum hair and ice — a hardened circus performer.  She never really warmed up, though, which made her ‘desperate’ romance with Robert Pattinson a bit hard to believe.

And Robert?  Well, he finally has a role with a little more teeth in it — get it?  teeth?  you’re welcome — and I think he handled it quite well.  The cinematography, with all his sepia tones and sunsets to convey the era, suit him well.

If you just like looking at him, this film does not disappoint.  But his performance offers much more…something the major film critics are having to grit their teeth and admit.  I’m enjoying that as well.

Oh — and I can’t forget the elephant in the room.  She ends up being the star of the show.