‘Rudy’ (1993) You don’t have to play the star athlete in one of the greatest sports films of all time. Making his film debut in ‘Rudy’, Jon Favreau’s adorably shy D-Bob is a great academic help and an essential boost to Sean Astin's title character, an aspiring college football player who makes up in heart what he severely lacks in skill.
‘Swingers’ (1996) In perhaps one of the better known films from his early career, Jon Favreau teams up with Vince Vaughn in this comedy about two friends and their skirt-chasing antics around the Las Vegas and Los Angeles' nightspots. Exploring love and the neo-lounge scene, this film was also written and co-produced by Favreau, showing early in his career the signs that he works just as well behind and in front of the camera.
‘Elf’ (2003) What is a man to do when he has been raised as a Christmas elf and has to re-integrate into human society to find his biological father? Jon Favreau delivers Christmas magic as the director of this light-hearted movie. He also makes a very brief appearance as a doctor taking blood from Will Ferrell’s main character.
‘Daredevil’ (2003) No one was really happy with how this Marvel movie turned out, but Jon Favreau did what he could as the superhero’s best friend, Franklin ‘Foggy’ Nelson. As the money-minded Nelson, he delivers some of the movie’s funniest lines during clashes with the title character and adds laughter to an otherwise dark plot. And he is right: "Elektra Natchios" does sound like “a Mexican appetiser”.
‘Zathura’ (2005) A boardgame coming to life is the stuff of nightmares or fantasies, depending on whether you are playing Cluedo or Monopoly. Here, Jon Favreau opts for fantasy. Comfortably in the director’s chair, he steers audiences through a larger-than-life world in outerspace, in which two brothers must complete a magical boardgame or literally die trying. The thrilling ride is testament that Favreau knows how to make a great cinematic adventure.
‘Iron Man’ (2008) Thankfully, the let-down that is ‘Daredevil’ would not be Jon Favreau’s only Marvel credit. He went on to direct ‘Iron Man’, while also starring as Tony Stark’s bodyguard and chauffeur, Happy Hogan. In yet another directorial success, Favreau effectively captures Stark’s witty humour and effortless charm, while playing a character with an odd name himself. With Favreau’s work, we are Happy, indeed.
‘Couples Retreat’ (2009) This is just one of those rom-coms that turn out laughable, and not for good reason. The pairing of Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn could not lift it beyond mediocre, in a story about two couples embarking on a holiday to salvage a marriage. ‘Couples Retreat’ could not save itself, but a flop every now and then is forgivable for Favreau, who has given us a good share of enjoyable films.
‘Iron Man 2’ (2010) Returning for round two as both the film’s director and actor (as bodyguard/chauffeur Happy Hogan), Jon Favreau gets by with a sequel that is not as fun as its predecessor, but is nonetheless enjoyable. Genius, billionaire and superhero Tony Stark’s second adventure was still a commercial success.
‘Cowboys & Aliens’ (2011) This movie is about, erm, cowboys and aliens, and certainly not one of Jon Favreau’s better works, critically or financially. The sci-fi western hybrid was praised by some critics for its cast though. It does take guts to experiment with a cross-genre project, we’ll give Favreau that.
‘Chef’ (2014) If Jon Favreau ever needed to prove his many talents, or multi-tasking ability, ‘Chef’ would do the trick. As the director, producer, writer and lead actor, Favreau takes tremendous credit for this smartly-written and beautifully filmed movie about a restaurant chef rediscovering his passion and his relationship with his son. The result is an emotional and gustatory adventure.