June 1, 2014

Chef - A Guy Film To Soften A Man's Heart

My father was basically a John Wayne era 'tough guy', who showed little emotion other than anger, smoked, liked to drink, and was gone a lot. He saw the young me as a smart ass and the root of the problems in his marriage. All nuts, of course, but along the way, I got so much negative attention, my self-esteem bucket was like a colander. I've spent a lot of years plugging up the holes.

. . . my self-esteem bucket was like a colander.

My dark dad history, and all those similar stories I've heard from men and young men over the years, are the reasons I'm a sucker for the 'good dad' films. There aren't many, but when I see them, even if the plot isn't that great, I take some joy in suspending my judgments and letting the tears of joy and grief roll down my face. In a mixed-up way, it's healing for me.

So that's what happened, again, when I saw the film Chef. In the film, a skilled chef is selling his soul by cooking good, but uninspired food at an up-scale restaurant. In addition to ignoring his deep passion for creative cooking, he is also ignoring his 10 year-old son. As the result of a divorce, as a single parent he gets occasional visits with his kid. On the times he doesn't back out of the scheduled dad time, he has dutiful, but sadly impersonal visits with his son. The kid has huge dad hunger, and dad isn't really there.

Chef isn't deep in terms of plot. In fact it's simplistic, and even predictable. But it is fun and a foodie treat. It's been labelled food porn for all the sensuous shots of beautiful food you see creatively prepared. At it's core, it's a food film with a 'dad and son' back-story. The music is rich and energetic, there are some very funny lines/moments between the players, and there is some great road-trip scenery.

. . . how a young guy gets a peak at "manhood"
by hanging with the men in his dad's world.

If you look closely, Chef offers some back-stories about how good men friends care about and support each other in the hard times, how technology is changing the world, and a fun, too true, look at how a young guy gets a peak at "manhood" by hanging with the men in his dad's world. Sadly, it has an R rating because you have to put up with way too much swearing, pot smoking, drinking, and too many sexual innuendos for a film about a man and his 10 year-old son.

The teary part for me is when, toward the end of the film, the dad and son do connect with each other, have fun, go on adventures, speak truth about their relationship, and find ways to show how much they love each other. How can a man not shed a tear at that outcome?

I remember the biblical phrase, "This is my beloved son in whom I'm well-pleased." I have always hungered for that blessing. When I am in the presence of that statement being expressed in the world around me, no matter the form or how thinly it's veiled, it goes right to my heart.

You can get the feel for the film in the clip below. You can also read this review of the film in the Washington Post for more detailed information about the plot and cast. It's not really a film for really young guys, but it's a story that will soften the heart of even a tin man.

Do you have a film that gets to you in the same way?

If this clip doesn't show up use this link.

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