Custom Search







July 10, 2014

Chef (***) R

Jon Favreau, the writer/director/star of the summer indie Chef has always been a likeable presence on film, beginning with such early efforts as Swingers and Made. After he made a name for himself with those films, Favreau as a filmmaker opted for bigger budgeted crowd pleasers such as Elf, Cowboys and Aliens and the first two Iron Man films, trading in his indie cred somewhere along the way.

Judging by the end product of his smallest film in quite some time, Chef, Favreau seems to have made a wise decision by returning to his more modest cinematic roots. His newest film may not set the world on fire, at least in terms of storytelling, but one is likely to find it inspiring in much the same way that the filmmaker was obviously inspired to tell the story. It’s a film about finding one’s place in the world and, ultimately, doing what you were put here on earth to do, the building blocks of stories of which I never seem to tire and, in spite of a tendency to be a little too relaxed for its own good at times, Chef worked for me.

In terms of screen performances, Favreau’s portrayal of the lead character Carl Casper is probably one of his best thus far. Carl is a chef for a trendy LA eatery run by a boss (Dustin Hoffman) who insists that Carl play it safe and stick to what customers have come to expect instead of conducting experiments on his dime.

John Leguizamo, Emjay Anthony & Favreau in Chef

This, of course, isn’t in Carl’s nature and when an influential food blogger (Oliver Platt) pays a visit, he senses Carl’s heart isn’t in what he’s being forced to serve and gives him a negative review which proves to be the beginning of the end of Carl’s professional career.

Carl long ago lost his wife (Sofia Vergara) and his son (Emjay Anthony) due to his workaholic tendencies. When his ex-wife suggests starting up a food truck, Carl is against the idea but with the support of one of his former colleague (John Leguizamo) begins to warm to both the idea of starting something new and using it as an opportunity to get to know his son better.

Chef is a very relaxed film. It doesn’t get in any sort of hurry in terms of letting its story unfold and that could be a problem for some viewers. For the most part it suits the story attempting to be told here, although, the film does veer toward overlength just a small bit during its final section. I suppose that’s okay considering that Chef is the type of film that we’re seeing less and less of during the summer movie going season. It has such an inspiring message at its core and such a sweet nature that I’m betting you’ll be willing to forgive it for any such cinematic transgressions, much as I did.

Tammy (* ½) R

While sitting through actress Melissa McCarthy’s latest comedic romp Tammy, I couldn’t help but wonder why they didn’t just call the film Megan. Pardon me, if you will, while I elaborate. In case you don’t remember, Megan is the name of the character that McCarthy played in the 2011 film Bridesmaids. That role proved to be her ticket to both an Oscar nod and a career as an A list actress. The trouble is that, more or less, Megan is the same character that McCarthy has been playing in all of her subsequent films since the breakout success that Bridesmaids provided her.   

For instance, if Megan had stolen some stranger’s identity, you would have the film Identity Thief. And, if Megan had decided on a career in law enforcement and wound up being paired on screen with Sandra Bullock then you would have The Heat. You get the point. I suppose what I’m saying is that, in spite of the fact that audiences have thus far been showing up in droves to witness the actress’ on screen shenanigans, I can’t help but wonder when, if ever, we’re going to see something other than the slovenly, loudmouth, bull in the china shop persona that seems to turn up in all of McCarthy’s projects.

I have a feeling that perhaps Tammy might be the turning point for audiences. Of the films which McCarthy has received top billing in the credits, Tammy is certainly the worst. And that’s saying something considering that The Heat and Identity Thief both made my year-end worst list last year.

Susan Sarandon & Melissa McCarthy in Tammy

This time out, though, McCarthy and her husband Ben Falcone are the sole culprits to blame for this mess. The fact that the actress spent six years attempting to get the film made, all to no avail, until she became the comedic flavor of the moment, should tell you something. Some vanity projects are best left unmade and this one certainly fits that bill.

Tammy is a down on her luck waitress in an atypical greasy spoon café. When Tammy discovers that her husband has been cheating on her with Toni Collete (and, when one contemplates domesticity with someone along the lines of Tammy, it’s awfully hard to blame them) she announces to her mother (Allison Janney) she’s going to hit the road. The trouble is that she also has no wheels of her own and cooks up a plan to make that road trip with her grandma, (Susan Sarandon, who certainly deserves better than this) who actually has a mode of transportation. From there on it’s the usual collection of gross out gags that might have played better if the lead character as written didn’t come off so distastefully in the first place.

It certainly isn’t that McCarthy doesn’t have talent. I just find it alarming that she insists on doing the same tired shtick every time out of the gate. This is the second year in a row we’ve had to endure McCarthy’s one-note persona. I just hope she manages to prove she’s more than a one-trick pony before it’s too late.

Tammy is playing all over this area. At press time, Chef is playing only in a few theaters in Charlotte.

Questions or comments? Write Adam at




Transformers: Age Of Extinction

Jersey Boys

22 Jump Street & How To Train Your Dragon 2

The Fault Is In Our Stars & Edge Of Tomorrow

A Million Ways To Die In The West

X-Men: Days Of Future Past Maleficent

Godzilla • Summer Preview

Neighbors • Godzilla

The Amazing Spiderman 2 & Belle

The Other Woman & Brick Mansions

A Haunted House 2 & Heaven Is For Real

Oculus & Rio 2

Captain America: The Winter Soldier



The Grand Budapest Hotel & Veronica Mars

300: Rise of the Empire

Non-Stop & Son Of God

Three Days To Kill

Robocop & The Past • About Last Night

The Monuments Men

Labor Day

I, Frankenstein

Inside Llewyn Davis & Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Lone Survivor & August: Osage County

Her • Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom & The Wolf Of Wall Street

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, Saving Mr. Banks, American Hustle, Anchorman 2

The Hobbit: The Desolation & Of Smaug • Nebraska

Dallas Buyers Club & Oldboy & Out Of The Furnace

Philomena & The Book Thief

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire & Delivery Man

About Time & All Is Lost

Thor: The Dark World & 12 Years A Slave

Ender’s Game & Last Vegas

Bad Grandpa &The Counselor

Carrie & The Fifth Estate

Captain Phillips, Enough Said & Machete Kills

Gravity & Runner Runner

Metallica: Through The Never , Rush & Don Jon

Prisoners & Rush

Insidious: Chapter 2 • The Family & The Spectacular Now



The World’s End You’re Next

Lee Daniels’ The Butler • Jobs • Blue Jasmine

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters & Elysium

2 Guns

Blue Jasmine • The Wolverine & Fruitvale Station

Fruitvale Station • The Conjuring & The Way Way Back

Pacific Rim & Grown Ups 2

The Lone Ranger & Despicable Me 2

The Heat & White House Down

Monsters University, World War Z, Before Midnight & The East

Man of Steel & This Is The End

The Internship & The Purge

After Earth, Now You See Me & Frances Ha

The Hangover Part III Before Midnight

Star Trek: Into Darkness & Fast and Furious 6

The Great Gatsby & Frances Ha

Iron Man & Peeples

Pain and Gain & Mud

Oblivion & Lords of Salem

42 and Scary Movie 5

Evil Dead & Jurassic Park 3-D

G.I. Joe: Retaliation Tyler Perry’s Temptation

Spring Breakers Admission

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone • The Call

Oz: The Great And Powerful West Of Memphis

Jack the Giant Slayer The Last Exorcism, Part II

Dark Skies & Snitch

A Good Day to Die Hard & Safe Haven

Side Effects & Identity Thief

Bullet To The Head Warm Bodies




BannerEventAd-01.jpg   fanjoylabrenz.jpg

PO Box 1721 | Hickory, NC 28603 | 828.322.1036 | Office Hours: Mon. - Fri. 9am - 5pm |

Home • Reviews: MoviesAdam Long • Editorials: FocusHave Chainsaw Will TravelSid On SportsBobbi GSara MawyerPeople PicturesPlaces/PeopleExtra Events Listing
Out Of Focus • News: Local NewsNational NewsHoroscopes • Info/Links: Staff/ContributorsList Of AdvertisersOnline AdvertisingOnline ClassifiedsContact UsFocus BLOGStoreLinks

© 1978 - 2018 Tucker Productions, Inc.