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"Le Chef": No Stew Like the Old Stew 

Wednesday, Jul 2 2014

Daniel Cohen's Le Chef is a French foodie comedy that spins out control in the third act, but is pleasant enough until then. Alexandre (Jean Reno) is a veteran chef who finds himself at risk of being booted from the restaurant bearing his name by the new CEO, who's determined to modernize the joint with the fancy-pants new "molecular" food that Alexandre despises. (The very American concept of new corporate owners screwing things up has been of no small concern overseas lately, also showing up in the UK's Alan Partridge and Postman Pat: The Movie.) In desperation, Alexandre brings on intern Jacky (Michaël Youn), a perky young chef and fanboy who knows Alexandre's work better than Alexandre himself, and has to keep his new unpaid gig from his pregnant wife, Beatrice (Raphaëlle Agogué). Le Chef is almost aggressively frothy, and it frequently wallows in the delicious taste of things the audience will probably never try, but it loses its buddy-picture goodwill with an ill-considered scene in which Alexandre and Jacky go undercover dressed as a Japanese couple: Alexandre as a samurai (boo!) and Jacky as a geisha (seriously, boo!). It's played as farce, but this incursion of yellowface and drag effectively turns Le Chef into the one thing a film about tasty food shouldn't be: distasteful.

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Sherilyn Connelly


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