While there's a binge-worthy bounty of documentaries about food on Da 'Flix that you probably see in your suggestion box every night, buried beneath your queue lies an undercurrent of deep-cut, fictional films that revolve around food -- that somehow don't all suck. They deserve your attention. And anyone who says that truth is stranger than fiction obviously hasn't watched/read/heard about Naked Lunch. Here are the best food-related non-documentaries on Netflix right now.
(Note: Naked Lunch is not one of them. It isn't really about lunch. There is nudity, though.)
If you enjoy awkward British humor and unrelenting Michael Caine impressions... we'd probably be friends, and you'll also definitely be into Michael Winterbottom's The Trip. Steve Coogan -- playing himself -- takes on an assignment for The Observer, touring the UK's best restaurants in a futile attempt to impress his food-snob girlfriend. For company, he enlists his best friend who he can't really stand, comedian Rob Brydon (also playing himself). Hilarity and sardonic hijinks ensue. But underneath the quirky comedy lies a meditation on what it means to be happy as an adult, and how friends don't always need to acquiesce in order to be close.
Still, the best part is the Michael Caine-off.
Jon Favreau's return to his low-budget Swingers roots features the star/director as a pissed-off chef who becomes less pissed off when he ditches high-end dining for a food truck and starts banging Gloria from Modern Family. Oh, and he learns about life and himself and other movie stuff along the way. Chef buoys itself beyond a fairly formulaic script with heavy bouts of legitimate food porn crafted by SoCal food truck legend Roy Choi, and a cast peppered with A-list cameos (Dustin Hoffman, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sofia Vergara) who apparently had nothing better to do in 2014. It might not be The Godfather. But it at least has John Leguizamo. Who is basically this generation's Marlon Brando.
The God of Cookery
The God of Cookery might seem like a kitschy, foreign B-movie made for late-night stoner viewing. And it is. But it's helmed by Hong Kong legend Stephen Chow, whose mix of high-octane action and Looney Tunes-style comedy has made him a cult icon after films like Kung Fu Hustle and Shaolin Soccer. In this flick, he's a celebrity chef on an Iron Chef-like show that... well, look, you were either sold by the prospect of a Bugs Bunny-meets-Jackie Chan take on Iron Chef or you weren't.
You may recognize Aasif Mandvi as that Indian guy who plays a bit role as an Indian guy in every movie/show for white people ever. In Today's Special he stars as a sous chef at an upscale Manhattan eatery, who rediscovers his roots (and his love of food! And his love of family! How convenient!) when his father comes down with an illness, leading our hero to take over a family-owned Indian restaurant he all but abandoned when he embarked on his own lofty culinary career. It looks cheesy, but it registers: I felt as if I'd just watched Stella get her groove back all over again, if Stella were a consistently sweaty Indian chef, that is.
Essentially Good Will Hunting -- with less Matt Damon and quantum mathematics -- Le Chef follows an unknown chef who gets a big break, then struggles in the culinary limelight. The role of grizzly mentor/French Robin Williams is played by Jean Reno, who Americans will most likely remember as a psuedo-pedophiliac assassin in Léon: The Professional. He's just as scary in Le Chef, but since this is a touching dramedy, he doesn't systematically murder a bunch of people.
Yes, as a self-professed "GMO thriller," this gets a little preachy: It is, after all, a conspiracy theory-fueled Erin Brockovich -ish yarn about a mom's quest to solve the mystery of her kid's persistent, diet-related rash. However, the message is very much aligned with many people's suspicious views on GMOs, so it's topical (like the cream used to treat non-GMO-related rashes). That'll make it essential viewing for GMO haters who don't mind plot holes and love Danny Glover. Which is a very distinct -- but vastly underserved -- population.
After the Wall Street crash of 2008, James Adams was unceremoniously dropped from his cushy job hedging various funds on Wall Street, and -- in a lightbulb moment -- decided his life of excess and fucking people out of their hard-earned cash needed a dose of redemption. So he decided to work the graveyard shift at a local 24/7 dinner (oh damn, now I get the title) to get a dose of blue-collar life. Hilarity, life lessons, and Danny Glover (remember him? America's treasure?) ensue in this true(ish) tale, based on Adams' memoir.
The Adventures of Food Boy
Food Boy is like any other coming-of-age teenage comedy, if every bildungsroman teen comedy involved the sudden power to make copious amounts of food appear at any time. Food Boy, the character, is basically like Spider-Man, if Peter Parker were more into baking and kind of shitty. When faced with the realities of his newfound ability to make food appear out of thin air, he must decide if great power does come with great responsibility, or if he should just spend his life making bread come out of his hands. Is it a good movie? No. It's so absurdly bad that it's kind of good. Which I'd imagine describes the flavor of food that pops out of some dweeb's hands.
Honorable mention: Chicken Run
So Chicken Run is technically about food before it turns into food. But it's still delightful, and will make sadists very hungry.
Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.