Every so often, there’s a film or a news story with an obvious puns and metaphor angle that’s just too obvious to ignore, and there’s nothing critics and journos love more than punny wordplay, except maybe free food. If you work at a boring old grey lady, sometimes your only creative outlet is a good headline pun. Jon Favreau’s Chef opens this weekend, and to the surprise of no one, few critics could resist the siren waft of its potentially piquant puns. Hell, I even ended my review with one.
First off, honorable mention to the NY Post’s R. Kyle Smith, who may have outdone everyone with the food metaphors, especially since he wasn’t even reviewing Chef, but Neighbors:
The fratty comedy “Neighbors” seems to have originated in a butcher shop: It stars a slab of beef and features a whole lot of sausage jokes. To me it looks like a turkey, but it seems poised to bring home the bacon.
That was punning so baller Gene Shalit just waved a monogrammed white hankie in surrender. Now then, back to Chef:
If you want the cinematic version of a dim sum brunch, or cocktail hour at a tapas bar – lots of little plates, good flavors and uncomplicated fun – “Chef” has a table saved, just for you. -Stephen Witty, Newark Star-Ledger
Buoyed by a Latin-flavored score and Favreau’s knack for improv inspiration, Chef is the perfect antidote to Hollywood junk food. Like the best meals and movies, this irresistible concoction feels good for the soul. -Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
Transparent but never raw, slight but seldom undercooked, Chef is hardly the year’s most satisfying film, but it’s rare to find a movie that leaves the audience just as happy as it is hungry. -David Ehrlich, The Dissolve
Chef is certainly a tasty offering – maybe not as filling as others and it runs out of ingredients by the end – but it’s certainly worth a nibble. -Matt Neal, The Standard
Chef is a wonderful film. It is one that, much like great food, should be savored and enjoyed. -JimmyO, JoBlo
Favreau is in complete command, creating comfort food seasoned by a master chef. -Laura Clifford, ReelingReviews
Cooks up the perfect blend of talent, storytelling and heart. -Kristian Harloff, SchmoesKnow
There’s family-friendly fluff here, sure, but this dish has considerable bite. -Christina Izzo, Time Out New York
Like so much in “Chef,” the plot resolution seems contrived and a bit silly. By then, though, we’ve had plenty of laughs, and generous helpings of warm feelings-the meat and potatoes of real life. -Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
A warmhearted tale of redemption with food, music and family at its crusty moist centre. -Matthew Pejkovic, Matt’s Movie Reviews
Wait a second, how the f*ck can something be “crusty” in the “centre,” let alone crusty and moist at the same time? If it’s the crust, it’s not the center, by definition. He was probably just in a hurry to go to lunch.
Oh, and it doesn’t take a positive review to sustain a food pun:
The movie meal that Favreau whips up is easy to sit through but hardly memorable. -Richard Corliss
The results are more appetizing in theory than in execution. -AA Dowd, AV Club
Like all good food porn, the story here is wafer-thin at best. -Anthony Morris, The Vine
Because good food porn… has a thin story? I dunno, seems like a stretch, man, like the skin of a souffle. Just being honest.
Worst of all are the tweets that pop up onscreen and then fly away, chirruping… This digital worship, unlike the food, is flavorless and dehumanizing, and in a few years’ time it will look archaic. For now, it spoils the appetite. -Anthony Lane, New Yorker
Oh my God, the detached, arch prose… The seamless incorporation of the word “chirruping…” The general tone of schoolmarmish clucking… That is the perfect New Yorker pull quote. Deliciously New Yorkery, one might even say, if one were so inclined. But where can one find the time, in today’s digified chat-mosphere of techno-paeans? Doesn’t anyone write letters anymore?!?