Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) is a top L.A. chef who is forced to reinvent his career after a video of him verbally attacking a critic goes viral and he loses his job. Rather than take the easy money (reality TV shows, etc), Casper attempts to rebuild his reputation selling Cuban sandwiches out of a filthy looking food truck. He also takes advantage of lapse child labour laws to use the opportunity to reconnect with his son (Emjay Anthony) and his estranged, out-of-his-league ex wife (Sofia Vergara).
Rated R, probably because of all the cussing. But have you heard what comes out of kids’ mouths these days? This is tame by comparison
Carl Casper (Favreau) is a top L.A. chef at the Galoise restaurant, which is owned by the over bearing Riva (Dustin Hoffman). With an impending visit from top food critic Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt), Casper cooks up an exciting and innovating menu only to be derailed by Riva and told to serve the same menu as always – because that’s what people come to eat. Ramsey trashes Casper in the subsequent review as being devoid of creativity and washed up.
Not understanding twitter, Casper starts a public war of words Ramsey, which in short ends up in Casper being filmed verbally abusing the critic in the middle of the restaurant. Again, not understanding the power of the internet, Casper is surprised to find footage of his manic outburst goes viral – bye bye restaurant job, bye bye hot waitress girlfriend (Scarlett Johansson)
Casper uses his new found time to travel to Miami to connect with his tech savvy tweenage son, Percy, and on the advise of his ex wife Inez (Vergara) decides to open a food truck selling Cubanos, which are sandwiches not cigars. Casper approaches Inez’ ex husband Marvin (Downey Jr) for a dig out and Marvin obliges in providing a rusty, dirty food truck. Why Marvin has this hanging around is kind of a mystery.
With the help of Percy and his colleague Martin (John Leguizamo), they clean up the truck, probably not to HACCP standards, and travel back across America stopping in cities along the way to serve buttery ham and cheese sandwiches to the starving masses. Using social media to document the journey, Percy keeps the twittersphere and facebook….sphere updated with their location and shenanigans, building a following from city to city.
Will they get all the way back to L.A. before the majority of their punters contract salmonella? Will the Department of Labor shut down the operation or will a bribe of 25 Cubanos and a sprite see them turn the other cheek? Only one way to find out… two if you include wikipedia
- Favreau is quite convincing as the concentrated-on-work-and-neglected-family type – clearly flawed but still likeable
- Nice attention to detail – Favreau learning knife skillz for example
- Father – son scenes are touching without being too schmaltzy
- Oliver Platt made the perfect food critic
- Robert Downey Jr’s cameo was kinda pointless and a little hammy
- Favreau scoring not only Sofia Vergara but Scarlett Johansson too?? Sorry Jon, but that’s just a little too unrealistic
A nice story about redemption and rediscovering what is important in life, yada yada yada. The story is nothing new or original really – Man spends too much time on his career and not enough on his family. Career falls apart and now he has to rebuild relationships and discovers he is happier being with family, and so on. That said, this movie has some nice moments and I like the way they deal with the social media element and how it can make or break a career/business. The writers were smart enough to show that the relationship between Casper and his son is no quick fix and while there are sweet, touching scenes between the two, these are grounded by the reminder that the road trip will come to an end. I may be biased by the fact that I watched this movie with my 3 week old son sleeping on top of me, but I thought this movie has a nice balance of sincerity and humour (mainly provided via Leguizamo), while keeping the pukability factor relatively low. 6/10