Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian

The thing about becoming a pop culture blogger, and excited fandom tracker and frequent Comic Con goer (I’m really missing cons this year. So much) is that you just accumilate junk knowledge, but it also can suck the magic out of stuff, because a part of this kind of work, which I love doing, is figuring out how to see the strings.

So I decided to let the magic of The Mandalorian linger for a bit and not watch the behind the scenes Disney Gallery specials about the show. But as I realized that I’d maybe watched The Imagineering Story too many times, I decided to check it out.

First of all, I loved the format of the show, which reminded me of Jon Favreau’s delightful Dinner For Five. (I’ve heard The Chef Show does something similar, I might watch that too) Favreau used to host a show where he held a dinner party for five people and rolled cameras. It’s an intensely fun way to have a talk show. On Disney Gallery he takes a similar approach, doing roundtable interviews with different people involved in The Mandalorian, talking about their experience with Star Wars in general, this show in particular, and laughing a lot.

Some really cool stories come out, and there’s interesting behind the scenes talk about the technical and writing processes, tons of info dumping from Dave Filoni, and Bryce Dallas Howard telling an incredible story about a childhood trip to Japan. (This is in the “how did you find Star Wars” section. She starts with, “so when I was six, my dad,” and everyone just groans. She laughs, “I know, OK! But I promise this is cool!”)

The stuff about Baby Yoda is cool, but I was really fascinated with the way Favreau talked through building new tech as he moved from Iron Man to Jungle Book to The Lion King and now in The Mandalorian. And not for nothing, it’s always a joy to watch someone talk about something passionately, and if there is anything I know from following his career for most of my life, Jon Favreau loves movies and loves artists and loves film history, so talking about how special effects have grown to be able to create something as special as The Mandalorian is a real treat.

I’m also completely in love with Gina Carrano. My God, that woman is beautiful and funny and charismatic as hell.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Mandolorian“Chapter 8: Redemption”

I’m assuming that Mando is off to find Luke Skywalker (although the ending of this episode is something else)

Let’s go back. After learning that Moff Gideon’s Storm Troopers Jason Sudekis and Adam Pally (!) are guarding Baby Yoda, Mando, Cara, Griff and IG-85 go to get the baby. Moff Gideon knows who they all are, and it’s really creepy, also, Cara notes that he was supposed to have been executed for war crimes so what’s happening there?

Anyway, they fight him and flee, Mando is wounded and IG-85 heals him which is the work around we get for him to remove his helmet. He can’t remove it in front of a living being, IG reminds him that he’s not a living being. So he gets healed, and we see Pedro Pascal’s beautiful wonderful face. HOORAY!

After looking for the Mandolorians, and learning they were slaughtered by the client, Mando has a conversation with the armorer, who tells him that Baby Yoda needs to be returned to his people. Mando is skeptical before being told that this is the way, he agrees.

I present a hypothetical scene that happened in my head:

Me: So I guess they’re going to be looking for Luke’s new Jedi academy. If we learn that Kylo Ren killed Baby Yoda I will find Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau and slap them across the face.

The Mandolorian: Reenie, you seem to have forgotten something, there are other Jedi at this point in history besides Luke and Leia.

*Moff Gideon Emerges from his ship with The Dark Saber*

Me: AHSOKA AND EZRA! FILONI YOU’VE DONE IT AGAIN YOU BEAUTIFUL BASTARD.

End Scene

Look, I’m all for finding the home planet of the Yodas. I will be very into that, if that’s where we’re going. But I think, by adding such a specific detail from Mandalore, as the Dark Saber, which was so important to Clone Wars and Rebels and the stories of this culture, when you’re looking for Jedi in order to surrender the baby, perhaps it could be to a young Jedi who disappeared into the unknown regions on a Space Whale, and one Not A Jedi who has reached Force Nirvana via time travel and confronting her evil former master.

What I’m saying is, I think Mando should hand Baby Yoda over to Ahsoka and Ezra and then he and Sabine can argue Mandolorian code adhearance like a couple of Rabbis.

I’m still not sure about the overall storytelling of The Mandolorian, I appreciated almost everything it did, but I don’t know that 8 episodes works for what they were doing. Twelve would have been better. My two favorite episodes, Episode 2 & Episode 7 were both directed by Deborah Chow, which I think is pretty important for me personally, since she’s going to be running Obi-Wan and I like what she does. Hooray!

That said, we won’t know this for over a year. We know season 2 is coming next fall, in the meantime, I’m not leaving this world behind. The past six months have given me so much and I’m not ready to move along. The next Fangirl Loves Star Wars will be in a few weeks, where we’ll talk about The Aftermath trilogy by Chuck Wendig.

 

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Mandolorian “Chapter 7: The Reckoning”

PROTECT LITTLE BABY YODA! YOU MUST PROTECT HIM!

I’ve mentioned that there are elements of The Mandolorian that aren’t clicking with me on Monday. But this second episode of the week. (SO MUCH Star Wars THIS WEEK!) feels stronger. I like the team that Mando puts together in an attempt to outwit The Client and save LBY and himself from running around with a price on his head. The return of Cara Dune and IG-11 is good. Their plan to get The Client off their butts is a good one, except it turns out the imperial presence around him on Nevarro has been beefed up.

Also it turns out, The Client isn’t in charge at all, it’s Moff Kargin (GIANCARLO ESPESITO) pulling the strings. While we’ve been trained that there’s nearly always a man behind the curtain with Imperial types, I’m glad the big bad has been revealed.

And watching this episode and being in to it. (THAT ENDING! Thank god we only have a few days to wait and see what’s happening. Also the sneak peak of The Rise Of Skywalker we get was also great. The movie is getting mixed reviews, but if there’s more of Poe making reckless decisions while flying the Falcon I’m all in.) I realized that while I like the old fashioned TV approach to the story here, that is each episode being relatively self contained, except for the ones that aren’t, (Monsters of The Week/Myth Arc, if you will!) it’s not an approach that’s particularly effective with only 8 episodes.

I love episodic TV and miss it very much, but frankly, you need at least 12 to make it work and that’s in the HBO one hour episodes each sense, for 40 to 45 minute episodes you need 20 or more for it to do what it does best. When you only 5 or so hours verses thirteen, and 2.5 of those hours aren’t contributing to the narrative, everything feels like wheel spinning.

And also, I’m just not feeling this show. Maybe this project was a mistake, maybe I’ve OD’d. (It’s happened before, remember last year when I barely did any Superhero stuff because I’d done too much the year before? Or the beginning of this year when I couldn’t even look at a speculative fiction book?) I don’t know, tonight might tell. I’ve never walked out of a Star Wars movie anything but totally hyped. (Yes, even Episodes I and II, second viewings were immediate let downs there, but I was psyched on first viewing.)  I doubt this will be different.

That said if they don’t save that baby next week, I will be very upset. I love that baby.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Mandolorian: Chapter 6: “The Prisoner”

“The Prisoner” is what I personally wanted The Mandolorian to be from the beginning, because as I’ve noted a thousand times, I love a heist. I love getting a crew together, I love the conflicting goals, I love the way they tend to twist and turn. And also, this had some fun cameos. Bill Burr! Natalia Tea! (Tonks/Asha) Clancy Brown! Matt Lantner (The Voice of Anakin from Clone Wars!) Mark Boone (Bobby Elvis from Sons Of Anarchy!) Dave Filoni himself!

Mando goes to get the Razor Crest repaired and finds himself sucked in when old friend Ran recruits him with a bunch of other scum to break a prisoner out of a new republic prison cruiser, one of them X’ian and Mando have clearly fucked and it’s awesome. Anyway, the team gets aboard the chip they break in and things go sideways. They betray Mando. (SHOCKED, Shocked I tell you!) and he strikes back. (Your winnings, sir?)

Shocked.gif

It’s a Casablanca joke. Watch a movie

Anyway, after returning to base with the titular prisoner, Mando also leaves his tracking fob with those who would have seen him blown up and a crew of X-Wings show up and blow up the place and Mando and Baby Yoda fly away home.

Seriously, it’s all pretty rote. The show in general had been pretty rote but well executed. I’d rather well executed rote-ness than poorly executed vision. (I mean I’d rather both, but I’ve got Watchmen so I can’t ask too much of genre TV at moment.) (Speaking of HOLY CRAP Y’ALL! HOW GOOD WAS WATCHMEN?) I’m sure on rewatch I’ll have more to say. But I wish that things would have congealed a bit by now. I know we’re getting a season two, and while I love that we’re also getting a good episodic Sci-Fi show with a premiere budget, I’d like a bit more of an arc. When Arrow has more thematic cohesion in it’s eighth and final than your $15 million per episode, billion dollar IP, I don’t see all being well.

While we were getting dressed for Mary’s wedding, Cha, Joanna and I discussed the show and what we’re looking for from Star Wars. We landed on a Rogue One/The Last Jedi, Solo/The Force Awakens divide, and we all land squarely on the Solo/TFA side. The Mandolorian, for as great as it is, and it’s very good, is much  more on the Rogue One/The Last Jedi side. With the exception of LBY it’s done very little that touches my heart. In case the past six months haven’t made it clear, I want Star Wars to be in my heart.

On Friday, we’ll talk about the end of the Skywalker Saga with The Rise Of Skywalker. I’m hopeful and excited for the movie, it looks spectacular and I’ll take spectacle in heaps from my Star Wars. I have tickets for Thursday Night and Saturday afternoon, so one Friday we’ll do the Movie Season review and Monday’s Fangirl Loves Star Wars will cover both Mandolorian and The Rise Of Skywalker.

May The Force Be With You.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Mandolorian “Chapter 5: The Gunslinger”

Oh sure, set me up for failure episode. That is failure at ever being able to offer analysis this time around.

It’s called “The Gunslinger,” takes place on Tatooine, centers around Mando and Bobby Canavale’s son (who looks just like his dad) hunting for a dangerous sniper played by Ming-Na Wen, while Amy Sedaris and a bunch of pit droids baby sit LBY.

Of course that title just got me meditating, is Mando a Gunslinger? I don’t think he is. Ming-Na’s character is the gunslinger in question, but she’s not A Gunslinger in the Dark Tower way. And as I go back and for Mando, after all, “This is the way,” is not too far off from, “I shoot with my heart.”

This is not a sane line of thought to go down, and yet here we are. Turtles, all the way down. (Fuck that turtle though)

I love this episode. I have no other way to explain it. I thought it was wonderful, the changes in Mos Eisley since A New Hope (it’s been a decade and the ruling Mob family was blown up after all!) were fun to see. Mando’s familiarity with the planet was also neat.

And Amy Sedaris! And Ming-Na! OMG! It’s just too much goodness. The Canavale kid is good too. In terms of development, this episode didn’t do much, but it did provide us with a fun side adventure. I’m cool with this being an adventure of the week type show. We don’t get enough of them that are this good in the current landscape.

I know this post is relatively short for how these have been going, but this was a straightforward episode that I liked a lot and I doubt you all want to hear me ramble about unrelated Stephen King content, since that’s all I can think about when I think about the episode.

Also Amy Sedaris.

And pit droids.

And Ming-Na Wen.

We’re drawing closer and closer to opening weekend of The Rise Of Skywalker and I’m deeply ready for it. I’ve also decided to continue with Fangirl Loves Star Wars in some capacity as we move forwared. Season 2 of Resistance, whatever’s going on on Disney+, (New Clone Wars! I haven’t forgotten!) I’m going to do some reading of the novels. It won’t be a regular thing, but like Nerd Homework, I’ll check in occasionally!

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Mandolorian Chapter 3: “The Sin”

This show is not what I thought it was when I first watched it. It’s not what I thought it was going to be either.

It’s not just Baby Yoda, although, like, we all love Baby Yoda, you guys. SO much. I love Baby Yoda. You love Baby Yoda. The world loves Baby Yoda. Werner Herzog has described Baby Yoda as “Heartbreakingly Beautiful.” We’re all on board with the greatness that is Baby Yoda.

What shocked me, going into this was how going out of Chapter 1, I understood that this show as going to be good, it probably wasn’t for me. I already had Firefly and even if I wanted that feeling with a Star Wars skin, I had Rebels. Chapter 2, with Baby Yoda using The Force, opened things up a little bit more, and now Chapter 3, I’m fully all in.

Our Mando drops the Baby with The Client and Doctor, wary. He accepts his payment, the steel that builds Mandolorian armor, and he returns it to his clan. Turns out, our dude is not super popular among his own people. He’s called a coward and a failure. He realizes he is, but not for the reason his clan thinks. He needs to save The Child.

So he goes back to the Bounty Hunter Guild and gets a lot of, “Forget it, Mando, it’s Bounty Hunting,” from his brothers in arms. But he goes into the fortress, kills some storm troopers and saves Baby Yoda, but he’s pursued by the other Bounty Hunters, and now he has a price on his head.

He’s bailed out at least once, when the rest of his clan comes out of hiding to fight for him. I gasped with joy at this. That feeling, that clan, friends and family who have your back against all the odds. That’s one of the many many things I love about Star Wars, it’s why I fell for Finn and Rey so quickly, because that connection is so perfectly and quickly articulated between them.

It’s a theme I can’t get enough of. Anyway, now our Mandolorian is an outlaw, with a baby to protect, but the respect and honor of his Mandolorian clan. And we don’t know what’s next. I expected this to be the season finale, but we still have five episodes. (Again, there’s a another Mandolorian running around the edges of things in this time frame. She’s really into neon and also needs to find a young force user…).

I’m really into the show, I hope it develops well. Of course on twitter it was pointed out that there’s only been one woman who talks. My friend Cha nodded, “yup, it’s a bummer. But! We got a new Black Guy!” We say all of this tongue firmly in cheek, knowing how much more work there is to do for representation, I hope the show rights itself as we go forward.

Still on Helmet Removal Watch, but Pedro’s starting to sell the character even without the face. Still, want to see the face. We’ll see you next week, we’re off into the unknown.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Mandolorian Season 1, “Chapters 1 & 2”

OK, we’re doubling up on The Mandolorian recaps this week, and moving “Fangirl Loves Star Wars” back to it’s rightful place on Mondays. “Crisis Management” will now move to Thursdays so that I can watch all the shows and lose the lag between weeks on Batwoman and Supergirl. (As we saw last week!)

So, I was looking forward to The Mandolorian, although, it’s not the main reason I signed on for Disney+. (Those Disney Channel Sitcoms of my adolescence aren’t gonna watch themselves!) (Seriously though, I am so excited to watch Even Stevens again.) But I was still looking forward to it. I loved the casting announcements and a Mandolorian, I think Jon Favreau is deeply underrated as a director and the concept is strong.

The concept is indeed strong. I love a space western and The Mandolorian is undoubtably that. Pedro Pascal plays the titual bounty hunter with nearly wordless physicality. I hope we see his pretty face eventually, because he’s a very expressive actor in addition to being quite attractive, but I like what he’s doing. The Mandolorian has a code, he’s true to his culture’s odd mix of mercenary ideals and thoughts about community.

Also, in the end it turns out his prey was a baby Yoda. I went looking for a species name and no such name exists. Which, cool. Also cool, me bouncing up and down on my couch going “Lone Wolf And Cub! Lone Wolf And Cub! Lone Wolf And Cub! AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH” (I may be misusing the word “cool” here, I’m prone to that)

It was fun to see Werner Herzog (who I assume is an exiled Imperial, due to his costuming and Storm Trooper guards) and Brian Poeshen, and Taiki Waititi. Also, there’s a little bit of where did the money go ($15 million!) but I think it’s mostly in design and creature work; all of which is stunning. This show looks expensive.

Chapter 2

This episode is called “The Child,” and it’s amazing. The world has Baby Yoda Fever and I’m right along with them. That thing is dang adorable, and it using the force in concert with our Mando’s fighting style is really cool. (And began the repeating, “Lone Wolf And Cub” chant in my mind.)

I enjoyed Chapter 2 much more than Chapter 1, as it gave us a bit more insight into our lead. We still aren’t seeing a face. Some internet chatter is saying Mandolorians don’t remove their helmets in front of people ever. But, I mean, I know Sabine was a bit of a rule breaker, I don’t think that’s a rule we’re going to have to keep to. Again, if only because Pedro Pascal is nice to look at, but also because it limits a level of connection to the performance. He’s doing well, vocally and physically, but I’d like to also see his face.

Anyway, my specific prediliction for seeing beautiful actors aside. I simply found this a better episode of TV. The use of the Jawas was great, as was Nick Nolte’s performance. It lacked Herzog, but one can’t ask for everything. And we know Herzog will be back. A few conversations this weekend made me hope that the struggle between Herzog’s The Client and Baby Yoda has something to do with the rise of Snoke and The First Order.

Anyway, all that out of the way, let’s focus on that baby Yoda, shall we?

He’s goddamned adorable and the fact that the plushes haven’t been released yet, is either a stroke of negligence or brilliance on Disney/Lucasfilm’s part. Negligence if it didn’t happen because they were worried about it not selling. Brilliance for spoiler protective purposes and Tickle Me Elmo levels of hysteria if he does get released before Christmas. That baby is FRIGGING ADORABLE.

BABY YODA SO CUTE

He is precious. I shall call him TEENY CUTE and I shall love him always

Anyway, this development does change my approach to the show, which I was initially nervous about not having any Mystical Force Woo Woo.

I should have trusted Dave Filoni’s influence on the show more. The man who gave us Mallus, and Meditating to time travel, and Dume was never going to let this show be completely free of Jedi influence. It’s just not in him.

Next week, more Herzog? More Baby Yoda? Who knows! I’m excited to see where it goes and we’ll talk then. May The Force Be With You!

The Road to Infinity: I am Iron Man

Iron Man

So, I’m rewatching all of the MCU movies. Some one them, I will be watching for the first time since I saw them in theaters. Some of them, I have watched a zillion times.

Iron Man, is one I’ve watched a zillion times. Everytime, I am reminded of why this is the movie that launched an empire.

It’s really, really solid. The script is good, the performances are excellent, and the effects still look a lot better than a lot of what you see in most superhero movies. (They are also used quite sparingly.)

And Good God, is Robert Downey Jr. excellent in this movie. He’s just astounding. Over the course of 20 films, he’s given a mix of good to phenomenal performances as Tony Stark, but this original one is the phenomenal one.

Also, I will never, ever let anyone say a bad word about Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, or generally as an actress. (Gwyneth Paltrow as an insufferable internet personality, sure, fire away! SHE has time to do Yoga everyday AND raise her children!) She’s such a bright spot in every scene she’s in and she really does look like she’s having a ball.

And this movie has a social conscious that I always forget about. I don’t just mean, Tony’s realization that he’s complicit in a cycle of violence that will ultimately lead to the creation of The Avengers, the signing of the Sokovia Accords and his mentorship of Peter Parker, but I mean the scene on the roof.

While at a benefit Tony and Pepper have a romantic moment, and she is immediately uncomfortable. When he tries to brush it off she insists that they discuss it, that the power differential between them (he’s her boss!) makes where it was heading inappropriate. And, this is the important part, Tony backs off. Granted, he finds out that his mentor is trying to take away his company (and murder him) but still, he backs off, until they can have a real conversation about it.

I love Tony and Pepper.

Anyway, I also think that people don’t give Jon Favreau enough credit. Iron Man moves well, manages to stay small enough and big enough in the right places and somehow, hits every note perfectly. The impact of these decisions cannot be overstated, as they shaped the other 19 movies substantially. (Though even in The Incredible Hulk, made the same year, things are ramped up a bit…)

Overall, I was wary about diving back into the MCU, I don’t know how all of the movies are going to hold up. (I am SUPER  nervous about watching Iron Man 2 and Thor: The Dark World again, because OMG…) But I’m glad to know that Iron Man holds up and knowing how this story winds up going is an excellent beginning.

Plus, you guys, Phil Coulson, showing up for the first time, so unassuming at first and then such a complete and total badass.

We’re here to talk about “The Avengers Initiative.” Let’s get moving!

Rewatching The MCU: In The Beginning: Iron Man & The Incredible Hulk

Avengers: Age Of Ultron is opening in a month. Which seems ridiculously, and absurdly soon. I had a minor freak out last week, when I realized that it had really been 3 years since The Avengers came out, which was, if you recall, the impetus for this blog.

So in order to get myself psyched up for the movie (as if I needed it), I’m going to be watching all of The MCU films, and well, Daredevil is going to fall in there too somewhere…Anyway, watching 2 a week with a write up of how the movie holds up, how it fits into the larger tapestry of the MCU, and basic getting really excited for Ultron stuff.

So we start, at that very good place, at the beginning.

Iron Man

Iron Man

I always forget how good Iron Man is until I watch it again. It’s been so overshadowed by the world it created it’s easy to forget that Jon Favreau and Kevin Feige’s gamble is also one of the best action movies of the last decade. It’s exciting and funny and colorful, and sort of exactly what we all needed after Batman Begins taught us that superheroes were serious business, and Spider-Man 2 showed us that the characters might be more important than the action.

Iron Man took all of that, threw it out the window and said, “we’re going to give you characters that you like, action that’s fun, and it’s going to be a damn good movie.”

Also, seeing Terrence Howard is now very off putting, as I kept expecting him to go on a rant about homophobia and people tarnishing his legacy.

Empire rules all.

Here are some MCU pieces that fell so early into place:

  • Robert Downey Jr. Look, we could talk about him all day. He’s incredible. It was such a good choice, so perfect. Thank God, Fiege and Favreau fought for him.
  • Agent Coulson! I actually clapped when he showed up next to Pepper at the press conference, and giggled when he kicked a door down. People forget that he was revealed as bad ass almost immediately. (People meaning me.)
  • “The Avengers Initiative” which happened. Not exactly as Fury/Feige originally envisioned it, probably, since Ant-Man was supposed to happen, but whatever. (Please, like Keige doesn’t consider Nick his stand in. Coulson is us, but Nick is TOTALLY Kevin)

The Incredible Hulk

Hulk

Confession time. I didn’t finish it. I’ve seen this movie plenty of times, but I actually was not able to finish it this time. This is partially because I was exhausted but also, it’s pretty boring. But it’s good. Or I remembered it being good. This time, I really enjoyed watching Edward Norton and Liv Tyler kiss in the rain. Seriously, I didn’t even make it to the final fight…

MCU pieces that fell into place

  • Oh right, this really created the MCU, NO ONE knew that Tony was going to show up in the post credits, which, again, I didn’t make it to, but still, was there, and blew us all away. It was very exciting.
  • I still maintain that if we’re forced (which we’re going to be) to watch another Spider-Man movie, I would like us to do the origin the way they did here. A cool stylized opening sequence that summarizes the story rather than a half hour of unnecessary movie time. Also Batman, we don’t need another Batman origin. Look, I just think this movie did a lot of things right, even if this time it made me SUPER SLEEPY.
  • The final fight (that I didn’t watch) set the standard for “crazy ridiculous destructive violence” at the time which is cute, when you think about The Chitauri destroying Grand Central Station, or Captain America crashing those helicarriers, or even Thor fighting that destroyer in that town in New Mexico…but it was still pretty startling.
  • Liv Tyler is also lovely in this. A really good fit for Betty.

Anyway, this will go on. Maybe I’ll get into more detail when I get to the movies I’ve seen fewer times. Because I’ve seen these two SO MANY TIMES, but we’ll check in next Wednesday for Iron Man 2 Thor.

28 Days Until Ultron

Chef Has Something To Say

Chef

If you know about some of Hollywood’s innerworkings, it can sometimes be hard to separate the people who create a movie or TV show from the stories that you’ve heard about them and how they work.

When I was watching Chef on Saturday, it was hard to ignore the subtext of writer, producer, director and star Jon Favreau’s own story that colored everthing. Chef Carl Casper was an up and comer and quickly became the Chef Du Cuisine in a popular 5 star restaurant. However, he’s been turning out uninspired if popular food since taking that job, and one day a critic calls him out on it. This causes Carl to melt down and he winds up on a cross country roadtrip in a food truck with his son and sous chef, finding his muse again, as well as the perfect cuban sandwhich.

Jon Favreau broke through to Hollywood Success with Swingers, a deeply personal movie about dating, friendship and trying to make it in Hollywood. After Swingers, there was Made, which was not as good, but still at least reflected who Favreau is. Then came Elf and Iron Man. Hugely popular, absolutely. Good? You bet? Terribly personal and reflective of Jon Favreau’s point of view? Um, not really. Then Iron Man 2 happened. Favreau’s been pretty clear on stating that there were a lot of things that were dictated to him about Iron Man 2, and so the movie came out kind of a mess.

Then he made Chef. It’s all right there in the movie, but that also doesn’t mean that it doesn’t succeed on it’s own. Chef is smart, funny, touching and looks fantastic. Favreau’s performance is really exceptional, and the A-List cast around him, including Scarlett Johansson as his front of house manager Molly, Dustin Hoffman as his boss, Bobby Canavale as one of his sous chefs and of course, Robert Downey Jr. in one killer cameo scene.

The supporting cast also includes a really great turn from John Leguizamo as Carl’s partner Martin. I’m of the opinion that most movies would be way better if Leguizamo was in them. He’s such a talented guy, so funny and delivers scene after scene. Sophia Vergara plays Carl’s ex-wife Inez, and Emjay Anthony plays his son Percy. And they both do a really good job, especially Anthony, who seems to understand that his dad is going through something, but also just wants to hang out with him. It’s pretty great.

Oliver Platt is the critic that slams Carl and it’s a lot of fun and really satisfying anytime he and Favreau are on screen together. In the end the soundtrack and food really make the movie worth watching. There’s a satisfying happy ending and everything feels small and personal again, which is kind of cool. It doesn’t have the raw energy that Swingers did, but it shouldn’t.

Also, in 20 years, all if the social media stuff in this movie is going to look just as dated as the bowling shirts and fake jazz talk of Favreau’s debut. But it’s OK, because, Favreau isn’t trying to be zetigeisty, or it doesn’t feel that way. He’s just capturing a particular moment.

Rankings:

  1.  Godzilla
  2. Chef
  3. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  4. Maleficent
  5. The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Trailers:

The movie started late, which I guess is what happens when you go to see an Indie in a Multiplex on a Saturday Morning. But I caught the tail end of Jersey Boys, which I mean, come on, that looks like so good.

Also Sex Tape, which really does look pretty great. I love Cameron Diaz a whole lot, and I actually buy her and Segel as a couple, which makes for a nice change in those sorts of movies.