This movie is the Jon Favreau-fest: he not only stars in it, but he also wrote it and directed it. We've all seen him around a lot over the years, but, really, I did not fully grasp how prolific Jon Favreau's career has been. He's done everything from guest appearances on tv's Friends to executive producer of the blockbuster Ironman series. He must have made a lot of friends over the years, and several of them appear in this film : Dustin Hoffman, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Sofia Vergara, Bobby Cannavale, Oliver Platt, and Robert Downey, Jr.
It's a very simple story of losing and finding joy in your work and the impact it has on your life. This really hits home for me when I recall the times where I, for practical reasons, stuck with a job I'd grown to hate, only to find that once it was over, the door was open for me to begin to work in a joyful way again. I've got a feeling there are a lot of people who can relate to this experience.
It's also a story about family, fatherhood, friendship and food. My favorite parts, in no particular order: Jon (great job being a 'real' person), Emjay Anthony as his son (cute, smart, believable), John Leguizamo (funny), the fun music, the beautiful food (the sizzle that makes you think you can smell it), and last, but never least, a quick trip to New Orleans.
It is one of those slice-of-life films where nothing overly dramatic happens, but real-life happens and the ups and downs of a genuine life are enough sometimes. Undoubtedly, some critics may find it too simplistic, too predictable, too happy in the ending. I find it's great, on occasion, to just smile and relax and think, "life is good", and a movie that can do that for you is rarer than you might expect.
It's sweet and straightforward---good qualities in a person and in a movie.