Directed by: Cameron Yates
Starring: Flynn McGarry, Meg McGarry
Classification: G; 82 minutes
He puts the boy in Chef Boyardee. His name is Flynn McGarry, the titular subject of an evasive documentary about a culinary prodigy with a stage-mom mother tied to his apron strings. We meet the rolling-pin wunderkind frolicking in fields of miner’s lettuce. He’s a gangly, ginger-haired Californian; his mother wonders aloud about her “strange son” who figured out what to do with his life so early.
“I try to make sense about how this happened," she says. Mom and me both, because director Cameron Yates keeps parts of the story to himself. We’re told the mother is a writer-filmmaker, but mostly she’s a home-schooling parent who dotes on her son and documents his all-consuming hobby. Dad, a photographer who has issues of anxiety and alcoholism, is on the periphery, not interviewed.
Where does the money come from for the child’s expensive obsession? And where did the obsession come from? Questions avoided and unanswered. His mother attempts to present her boy as being bullied in elementary school: “He was little and his voice was high,” she says. Egads, he must have really stood out. Ultimately the film is as much about the mother and parenting as it is on the hot-plating Doogie Howser. It’s good food for thought, even if the film doesn’t quite come together.
Chef Flynn opens Jan. 25 in Toronto.