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Cinema reviews

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We take a look at this week’s cinema releases

CHEF (15)
If food be the music of love, then Chef composes a mouthwatering symphony of Cuban flavours to delight the palate of World Cup-weary audiences who crave a heartwarming drama garnished with gentle humour.
Written and directed by Jon Favreau, this uplifting confection works to a tried and tested recipe of triumph against adversity, and taps into the rising popularity of food trucks as a lunchtime hangout for famished American office workers.
Snappily edited scenes of high-quality produce being transformed into plates of calorie-loaded deliciousness make any hot dogs, nachos and popcorn from the concessions stand look bland by comparison.
Be grateful that the Smell-O-Vision and AromaRama systems, which heightened the immersive experience of films by releasing scents into the theatre, never gained traction, otherwise Chef’s 114-minute running time would be exquisite, stomach-rumbling agony.
The culinary wizard responsible for this raging hunger is Carl Casper (Favreau), who is the star attraction at a Los Angeles restaurant owned by Riva (Dustin Hoffman).
Prestigious food critic Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt), who reportedly sold his online blog for $10million, makes a reservation at the restaurant and Carl excitedly plans a new tasting menu with sous chef Tony (Bobby Cannavale), line cook Martin (John Leguizamo) and sassy hostess Molly (Scarlett Johansson).
“You know what I would do? Play your hits,” argues Riva, and he forces Carl to revert to his signature dishes.
Ramsey’s poor review, which berates Carl for resting on his laurels, ignites a bitter war of words on Twitter.
“You wouldn’t know a good meal if it sat on your face,” the chef informs Ramsey.
Their argument spirals out of control and Carl publicly quits his job. Ex-wife Inez (Sofia Vergara) invites Carl to accompany her and their young son, Percy (Emjay Anthony), to Miami to reconnect with his roots.
In familiar surroundings, Carl entertains Inez’s canny suggestion of a food truck and the chef transforms a worn-out vehicle into a mobile eaterie par excellence with help from Percy and Martin.
Chef wears its heart on its olive-oil-spattered sleeve, establishing an emotional divide between Carl and his son which might be bridged as they spend valuable time together on the road.
Social media assumes a pivotal role in the script and Favreau employs sparing visual effects to illustrate how Percy builds word of mouth for the food truck by harnessing the power of the internet.
Favreau and Anthony are an adorable pairing, and Robert Downey jun injects ribald humour to his fleeting scenes as Inez’s germ-phobic first ex-husband.
Heartfelt scenes of confession and reconciliation ensure tears flow as freely as the overpriced vino from Riva’s cellar.

Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie

First conceived for Irish radio and then as a series of books, the misadventures of feisty Dublin matriarch Agnes Brown (Brendan O’Carroll) transitioned seamlessly from stage to the small screen in 2011, with the birth of the BBC sitcom Mrs Brown’s Boys. Creator O’Carroll cast numerous relatives and friends in supporting roles, ensuring that the programme was a family affair. Critics may not have been kind, but the series, which is recorded live in front of an audience and incorporates out-takes, quickly gained an ardent following. Now, Agnes and her crazy kin stampede on to the big screen under the watchful eye of director Ben Kellett. Lord help anyone who gets in her way. Agnes proudly runs a fruit and vegetable stall in Moore Street Market, continuing a tradition that has been passed down in her family for generations. She hopes to pass the stall to daughter Cathy (Jennifer Gibney), but a dastardly developer intervenes with plans to bulldoze the market. Aided by Cathy, as well as next-door neighbour Winnie (Eilish O’Carroll) and her sons Mark (Pat Shields), Rory (Rory Cowan) and Dermot (Paddy Houlihan), Agnes resolves to take on the Irish establishment and give it a good spanking. She is aided by blind trainee Ninjas tutored by Buster Brady (Danny O’Carroll) and an alcoholic solicitor and a barrister called Maydo Archer (Robert Bathurst), who is prone to the occasional outburst of Tourette’s.