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Stars: Jon Favreau, Scarlett Johansson, John Leguizamo, Sofia Vergara, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt, Robert Downey Jr, Emjay Anthony, Bobby Cannavale, Amy Sedaris

Director: Jon Favreau

After a first half in which the film careers around looking for its mojo, this foodie fest catches fire in a feelgood last hour.

Carl Casper (Favreau) is a top chef writhing in the straitjacket imposed on him by restaurant owner Riva (Hoffman). With a top food critic, Ramsey (Platt) moving in for a key review, Carl wants to introduce a special menu, but is denied the opportunity.

The old-style food Carl is forced to dish up is scathingly dismissed by Ramsey who, unaware of the restrictions under which Carl is labouring, accuses him of failing to move with the times. After some tweeting disasters on the Internet, Carl quits.

Carl's wife's first ex (Downey Jr, doing director Favreau a favour after his Iron Man success) provides him with a catering truck and, with the assistance of the restaurant's sous-chef (Leguizamo), Carl is back in business.

With the connivance of his ex-wife (Vergara, very hot), Carl is even able to enlist his 10-year-old son (charmer Anthony), who takes to pressure catering like a duck to water.

Their life together on the road is by far the most enjoyable part of the film, as father and son bond over a hot grillplate, through Florida, Louisiana, Texas and California. Earlier on, the film struggles to find a rhythm; but the odds are that, by the end, you'll come away with a smile on your face and a hungry feeling in your stomach.

David Quinlan

USA 2014. UK Distributor: Lionsgate. Colour by FotoKem.
114 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 22 Jun 2014