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Chef

Chef is a 2014 dramedy film written, directed, produced, and starring Jon Favreau. Favreau plays Carl Casper, a successful celebrity chef who has become stuck in a rut, cooking the same dishes over and over again. After a bad review from a notable critic, Casper goes on a rant that gets uploaded to the internet and goes viral. Casper ends up quitting his restaurant and gets his own food truck at the behest of his ex-wife, Inez (played by Sofía Vergara). Casper and his young son start to bond while fixing up the truck. Casper’s love for cooking returns and the relationship with his son becomes stronger and stronger. Casper’s food is a hit with customers and critics alike, and the film concludes with Casper opening a new successful restaurant and remarrying his ex-wife. Sorry, spoiler alert. I always forget to mention the spoiler alert.

Chef is an enjoyable movie. It was a passion project of Favreau and you can tell. I have a few complaints though. For starters, it’s too long. It takes about forty-five minutes for him to even get the truck. We didn’t need that much exposition. It shouldn’t take that long to establish that he’s a great cook and a lousy family man. And the film seems to be a commercial for Twitter, Vine, and other forms of social media. I thought I was watching a movie about food, not technology.

The supporting cast is great, although somewhat underused. Robert Downey, Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Oliver Platt, Dustin Hoffman, and John Leguizamo all play supporting roles. John Leguizamo’s character, Martin, is there in the beginning, disappears for a while, and suddenly comes out of nowhere halfway through the film to work with Casper in his truck for no money and no reason other than to give Casper more time to bond with his son. Martin seemingly does all of the prep work and does most of the cooking during the food truck scenes. He’s more of a chef than the titular chef.

Watching this film makes you hungry. Be forewarned. Make sure you have something to snack on because your stomach will be grumbling every five minutes. It’s a good movie, a little redundant at times, but still solid entertainment. I watched it on Netflix. You can too.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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The Wolf of Wall Street

Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Jordan Belfort, a real life stockbroker who made millions of dollars by scamming people in the ‘80s. He made tons of money, had sex with a bunch of women, did a lot of drugs, and inspired a lot of people to do the same by publishing his life story in a memoir. This film adaptation brings Jordan Belfort’s story to the big screen and turns Belfort into kind of a folk hero. This film celebrates Belfort’s crimes and pays no attention to his victims. I doubt Bernie Madoff would get that kind of treatment, but Belfort is depicted as a rock star.

Leonardo DiCaprio gives another brilliant (yet Oscar-snubbed) performance in another Martin Scorsese film. These guys have been making quality films together for over a decade now. They know how to work with each other, and more importantly, they trust each other. Jordan Belfort is brash, arrogant, and an asshole but you still root for him to succeed and feel bad when his past catches up with him. A part of you hates him, a part of you loves him, and that kind of emotional manipulation has become a trademark of Scorsese’s films.

The supporting cast is great. Jonah Hill is practically unrecognizable as Donnie Azoff. Matthew McConaughey has a brief but memorable part. Rob Reiner, Jon Bernthal, Jon Favreau, and Ethan Suplee have small supporting roles as well. But the beautiful Margot Robbie will be the one who benefits the most from this movie. She’s a relative newcomer yet she holds her own against Leonardo DiCaprio and is the most captivating person whenever she is on camera. She is beautiful. And she gets naked and that’s always a bonus.

The three-hour running time is a little too long. It could have been two hours long, maybe two and a half. It runs out of steam a few times and a few scenes are redundant. Yes, we know that everyone is making crazy money and doing illegal things. You don’t need to show that forty different ways. We get it. Still, this is a great movie and deserves to be treated as one. Watch it. It’s on the Netflix.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Daredevil (shitty film)

Daredevil is a pretty awesome comic book character. It just didn’t translate to the big screen. Mark Steven Johnson (Simon Birch, Ghost Rider) directs Ben Affleck in this jumbled and diluted tale of Matt Murdock, a blind lawyer by day and a masked vigilante by night. Daredevil fights crime in Hell’s Kitchen in New York City, righting wrongs, beating up bad guys, and kicking ass even though he can’t see anything. In this movie he meets Kingpin (Michael Clarke Duncan) and Bullseye (Colin Farrell), two of his main rivals in the comics. He also meets Elektra (Jennifer Garner), his sometimes ally, occasional foe, and passionate lover.

Daredevil Movie Poster

The movie begins with the origin of Daredevil. A young Matt Murdock is living with his dad, the aging boxer Jack “The Devil” Murdock. Being an aging boxer doesn’t pay the bills, so Jack has to work as a mob enforcer. Matt runs away and gets in a freak accident with some chemicals and loses his sight. His other senses become heightened and he starts honing his abilities. The mobsters kill his dad and Matt Murdock becomes Daredevil.

Matt Murdock meets Electra and the two of them have a romantic friendly fight and decide to hang out. Her dad is a criminal with ties to a shady new crime boss known as Kingpin. Kingpin doesn’t like Elektra’s daddy anymore and hires a deadly hit man named Bullseye to kill him. Daredevil tries to prevent the hit, but doesn’t succeed and Elektra thinks that Daredevil killed her dad.

A reporter named Ben Urich (Joe Pantoliano) has been investigating Daredevil and discovers his true identity. Rather that trying to publish a story, he helps Daredevil out and tells him that Bullseye is going after Elektra. He goes to help Elektra, but she kicks his ass instead and finds out his true identity and realizes that he didn’t kill her dad. She then goes after Bullseye herself, but she dies.

Matt fights Bullseye and defeats him and goes after Kingpin. He gets his ass beat for a while, but ultimately prevails and Kingpin goes to jail. There’s a few hints that Elektra might be alive, and one of the final scenes show that Bullseye is recovering in the hospital and it sets things up for a sequel that will never come to be.

Daredevil is a great comic book character… comic book, not film. Daredevil is blind, but the comics can depict Matt’s emotions show his fears, his thoughts, and his inner turmoil. Movies rely on pictures to tell stories. If your main character is a blind guy, there is no way to visually tell his story and that’s one of the areas where this movie fails. Daredevil’s world is darkness, and movies require light so that you can see what is happening. The two ideas clash and can’t coexist.

Jon Favreau plays Matt’s friend and business partner Foggy Nelson. You can tell that he is just taking notes on making a movie about a second-rate Marvel hero. And he did a great job because Iron Man kicks ass and Daredevil sucks.

This movie is slow. It is dull.  A bunch of things happen but nothing stands out. The worst part about this movie is that it makes Daredevil seem lame so newcomers wouldn’t want to read the comics. And you can’t blame them. This movie destroys Daredevil, Elektra, and Kingpin. Colin Farrell’s Bullseye is the least intimidating and most absurd comic book villain ever… even Jim Carrey as the Riddler is more frightening. Watch this movie if you want, just be aware that it disrespects the source material.

Critically Rated at 6/17

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