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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Chef Flynn is an earnest documentary about aspiring young cook Flynn McGarry, who goes to unusual lengths to become a high-end chef. For the most part, the film is free of iffy content: There's no sex, violence, drugs, or drinking (at one point, teenage Flynn even toasts a success with sparkling nonalcoholic cider instead of champagne). Flynn and his mom do curse a few times during difficult moments, and he tells her, half in jest, to "shut up!" and "you're so embarrassing." He's still a great role model for young people, showing how hard work, perseverance, and discipline can turn dreams into reality. But parents may also want to point out the role that privilege, money, and connections have played in Flynn's success.
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What's the story?
CHEF FLYNN (Flynn McGarry) is talented, hardworking, and going places in the culinary world -- and he's not even old enough to drive his mom's car. While most teens are playing Fortnite and arguing with their parents about homework, Flynn is feverishly mapping out flavor combinations. In middle school, he turned his mom Meg's (Meg McGarry) living room into a supper club with a high-end paying clientele and interned with Michelin-starred restaurants. Is this food-obsessed young talent the next superstar chef? Or will he flame out before he's even able to toast one of his successes with a glass of legal champagne?
Is it any good?
Offering a portrait of how far talent can take someone when it's coupled with dedication and support, this earnest documentary plays like a tribute to stage parents. Though Flynn is obviously talented, obsessed, and possessed with the kind of energy and focus that separate a dilettante from a pro, it's clear that he also struck it rich in the parent department. His mom is both willing and (financially) able to outfit his bedroom like a professional kitchen, homeschool him so that he can concentrate fully on food and flavors, and hook him up with the type of people who write New Yorker profiles. But Chef Flynn shies away from digging into the way that Flynn's many advantages gave him an in to the culinary world in favor of showing off his singular upbringing and remarkable accomplishments.
And, make no mistake, they are remarkable. When he was barely old enough to see over the countertop, Flynn was already interning at a sophisticated NYC restaurant and turning out multi-course dinners in his mom's Los Angeles living room. The beautiful painterly shots of the spare, vivid plates that Flynn sends out at these dinners are some of the loveliest moments of the film -- viewers may want to watch with a snack or have a take-out menu on hand. It's certainly a thrill to watch this young man grow in confidence and move toward his dream -- but it's also a shame that the movie is content merely to witness his rise, rather than draw larger conclusions about power, privilege, or the toll that an exacting dream can take on a life.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about who Chef Flynn is aimed at. Why do you think the filmmakers decided Flynn was an interesting topic for a documentary? Are viewers supposed to root for him? How can you tell?
Could any young person follow the path that Flynn has laid out? What's unique to his situation that gives him a leg up? What part do his connections and advantages play in his success?
- In theaters: November 9, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: March 12, 2019
- Cast: Flynn McGarry, Meg McGarry, Paris McGarry
- Director: Cameron Yates
- Studio: Kino Lorber
- Genre: Documentary
- Topics: Cooking and Baking
- Character strengths: Perseverance
- Run time: 82 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: November 13, 2019
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