Imagine a movie written entirely by focus groups in Portland, Brooklyn and Silver Lake. In Chef, Jon Favreau plays an all-star cuisinier who's stymied by his corporately conservative, Dustin Hoffman-owned restaurant and has a meltdown that gets posted on TMZ—but not before he gets to sleep with Scarlett Johansson! He then discovers his love for authentic cooking and his love for his own cute son by running a Cuban food cart and traveling across the country with said son and John Leguizamo, whom you didn't even know you missed until you saw him. And everything feels so good all the time it's like eating a cronut forever, except the cronut is a beignet because beignets are totally authentic. You know what's also authentic? A weird product placement proclaiming Ketel One the classiest liquor ever, tweets that chirp and fly onscreen, a food blogger who sells his blog to AOL (ha!) for $10 million (double ha!), and prominent food critics announcing their visits a week in advance and then writing only about the weight gain of the chef. Also, sleeping with Sofia Vergara is obviously way more authentic than sleeping with Scarlett Johansson. Chef is likable the way your half-witted, earnest, eager-to-please cousin is likable. But over time, it's just as tedious. If you like Cubanos, don't watch this movie. Eat a Cubano.
Critic's Grade: C-
SEE IT: Chef is rated R. It opens Friday at Lloyd Center.