This is a film that almost demands to be compared to a soufflé or a truffle. I was in the mood for something light, and this certainly fit the bill. It’s a French comedy about cooking. The funniest thing about it is that the original French title is Comme un chef, which was changed for US release to … Le Chef. Hm. I guess that’s so the American audience can still indulge themselves in the idea that they know their French.
Actually the funniest thing about it is that “traditional French cuisine” as presented is what I think of as haute cuisine. In the movie it is being supplanted by something I take to be imaginary, or at least exaggerated, called molecular gastronomy. Jean Reno plays an established celebrity chef who is being challenged by the new wave of molecular gastronomy, and Michael Youn is a devoted follower of his TV show who through happenstance gets a chance to help him with the challenge. The older chef has a neglected daughter who is studying for an advanced degree and needs parental attention, and the younger chef has a pregnant girlfriend who needs stability and commitment. The owner of the restaurant where the conflict plays out is a smug, trendy asshole. Everything works out by the numbers, with the help of a few handy, salt-of-the-earth (and multi-racial) assistant chefs.
This was moderately amusing, but I really wasn’t expecting much. Very standard, mainstream, family-friendly fare. You might not want to take your grandma to Final Cut: Ladies and Gentlemen, but on the evidence of the audience I saw this one with, she’d be more than fine with Le chef: comme un chef.