“Chef” (2014): the guy gets the girl for no reason

29 May 2014

This isn’t a terrible film. It’s basic heartwarming stuff, with great music and delicious-looking food layered on top. I, for one, appreciate a good food movie. And I like writer-director-star Jon Favreau well enough. I’m not going to tell you this is bad material.

What I am going to say that if I see one more film in which the ridiculously hot, fantastic woman is just waiting around for Señor Doofus to get his shit together — and their uniting is this badly plotted, I am going to lose it. (Spoiler alert.)

628x471Yes, this is the woman — Sofia Vergara, for gods’ sake, she of the quickfire wit from Modern Family and improbably spectacular body — as Inez. And, that doofus-looking dude with the glasses? Yes, that’s a chef named Carl (Favreau), together with their son Percy. Not only are they now divorced, but Carl is a terrible father — perpetually late for his every-other-weekend visits, absent-minded, self-absorbed.

On some level perhaps it’s nice that the movies take pleasure in setting up spectacularly gorgeous individuals with very ordinary-looking ones; it gives all us ordinary people a chance to dream. Of course it would be nice if every once in a while the ordinary-looking partner were female rather than the reverse. Shall we review Carl’s appearance?

Jon-Favreau-Whets-Your-Taste-Buds-In-the-Trailer-for-Chef-Video-436541-2But I repeat: Carl’s shlubbyness isn’t my problem per se.

According to the film, Carl’s problem is the high-intensity world of first-class restaurants. So when he gets himself summarily fired because the restaurant’s owner (Dustin Hoffman, deliciously good in this role) just wants him to keep making the same old safe dishes for their customers. Long story short: Carl loses his shit on Twitter, buys a food truck, rediscovers his love of cooking, and re-bonds with his son. And oh yeah, he and Inez re-marry.

…which is my problem. That’s when my mild pleasure at the delicious food, great music, etc. came to a screeching halt. Whaddaya mean, they get remarried?

CHEF_09324_9325_COMP.JPG

Problem #1: Inez has no personality, no character, no motivation. Hence, their remarriage doesn’t seem to serve any of her interests, because she has no interests.

Problem #2: The only hint we are given for their being re-interested in one another is that little Percy appears to desire it, at least insofar as one of those “Gee, Dad, I wish you lived at home again” lines gets thrown at Carl.

Problem #3: The only hint we are given that Carl might still love her is when he gets irrationally jealous that she may have slept with another man. This is not an attractive quality in a man.

Problem #4: The only purpose of her (gorgeous, spring-loaded) existence is to serve as a reward for Carl getting his shit together. (Why isn’t his reward just a renewed relationship with their son?)

chef-scarlett-johansson-01-636-380

Oh, did I forget to mention that Carl already has a kind of relationship with Scarlett Johansson, whereby he seduces her regularly with his spectacular food? So, yeah, Carl OF ALL PEOPLE seduces the hottest women in Hollywood right and left.

Ordinarily I might not pause in my crazy schedule for a film rant on this blog, except that — hello — we just witnessed yet another shooting, this one at UC Santa Barbara. And as we’ve all heard by now, this one was executed by a young man angry that women were not responding to his seduction techniques.

No wonder the UCSB shooter believed that women must either succumb or die: films like this one promise men that women are just available to them, always. There’s no reason why Carl and Inez need to re-marry at the end; his real life change consists in having bonded again with his son. Inez is just thrown in with the package, because … well, we know why, don’t we?

I’m so tired. No wonder I like North and South so much — those characters actually transform.

Oh yeah, and one other thing, from this site:

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9 Responses to ““Chef” (2014): the guy gets the girl for no reason”

  1. Servetus Says:

    the New Yorker reviewed this from the social media perspective and said, essentially, this film will appear extremely dated in about three years.

    • Didion Says:

      I could have said that, too — it sort of already looks dated — but complaining about that kind of thing seems small. Gender politics is my game!

  2. eteokretan Says:

    And the UCSB shooter’s seduction techniques apparently being: sit there silently and then become enraged when beautiful, tall, leggy, blonde women don’t come over and adore him.

    In his mind, it seems, his mere existence was supposed to bring him loads of adoring hotties. So yes, he was supposed to get the girl for no reason.

    • Didion Says:

      ARGH. I had to stop reading about this shooting once I saw a piece that quoted members of the “seduction community” — men who buy into the idea that there are various tricks for sleeping with any woman you want — who angrily listed all the reasons why the shooter had failed at the trade.

  3. Becky Says:

    I think the shooting had more to do with mental illness than misogeny. Misogeny was just his crazy excuse. The lack of options for mental health treatment in this country is appalling. Having said that, I do believe that our society perpetuates the convenient excuses for men to abuse women.

  4. Hattie Says:

    As I read somewhere or other, looks don’t matter, what matters is what is in your heart. As long as you are the guy.


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