Jon Favreau is a guy with real talent. He is capable of making a big budget film that is quite good, but also not afraid to take on something much more personal and low-budget (and maintain quality).
2001- Made– Favreau’s first movie is a boxing crime-comedy film starring himself, Vince Vaughn. (Also, Peter Falk and Femke Jensen). This film isn’t great, but it is a decent opening to Favreau’s directing career. Interesting enough, this film he stars as a semi-pro boxer (something that comes up in Iron Man 2). IMDb: 6.4 of 14,000+
2003- Elf– Led by a great cast featuring Will Ferrell, James Caan, Zooey Deschanel, Peter Dinklage, Bob Newhart, Ed Asner, Faizon Love, Andy Richter and Artie Lange. This film is a goofy holiday movie which has stood for well over a decade as a popular Christmas favorite. I personally love the cast and always seem to get a chuckle from this one. (Something most Ferrell movies often can’t say.)
IMDb: 6.9 of 145,000+ ratings. Won a Golden Trailer Award in 2004 for Best Comedy.
2005- Zathura: A Space Adventure– It’s Space Jumanji. I thought that when it came out and after seeing it, I still say it. Just watch Jumanji (1995) instead. (It’s fun to say Space Jumanji. Space Jumanji!)
IMDb: 6.1 of 65,000+
2008- Iron Man (2008)- This is the movie that took Superhero films to a brand new level. This was Marvel’s last big chance and they knocked it out of the park. Jon Favreau put perhaps his career on the line for Robert Downey Jr (turns out that changed Downey’s life for the better). This changed everything for Marvel and setup the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it today. It was remarkable down to Earth and humorous at the right times. Mild spoiler warnings- The one-off villain (Jeff Bridges) in this film actually made a lot of sense. (Still pissed about Red Skull.)
IMDb: 7.9 of 670,000+
2010- Iron Man 2– This film isn’t nearly as good as the original, but it has some awesome (albeit brief) fight scenes. Neat special effects and advances Tony Stark’s story further. Not my favorite, but I had fun watching it. Some would say this is indeed a Marvel failure, but I didn’t hate it and it still made good money. So I count it as a win for Favreau (though barely).
IMDb: 7.0 of 501,000+
Director Score: 4-1
2011- Cowboys and Aliens– There are moments of awesomeness in this movie, but also moments where it gets stuck. The pacing is all wrong and really hurts the film from being a true gem.
2014-Chef– After a couple “missteps”, Favreau returns to his roots in a much lower budget film. It felt personal to him, his love of food, and his passion for making something amazing. This movie is a great food film (something that Burnt (2015) failed to do). It has a beautiful story, a great cast, solid amount of humor mixed with passion. This may be my favorite film by Favreau (minus Iron Man).
Check out this cast- Jon Favreau, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johannson, John Leguizamo, Dustin Hoffman, Sofia Vergara, Oliver Platt, and Emjay Anthony.
IMDb: 7.3 of 132,000+
Director score: 5-2
2016- The Jungle Book– The reviews are in and this one looks to be yet another stunning success for Disney. Chances are if you’ve seen any of the trailers, you aren’t surprised. With a star-studded cast (Ben Kingsley, Christopher Walken, Scarlett Johannson, Bill Murray, Gary Shandling (RIP), Emjay Anthony, Idris Elba )and the talented Jon Favreau directing, this film is poised to be a major hit in 2016.
IMDb: 8.2 of 6,000+ ratings
For those that insist on Rotten Tomatoes- 92% 7.4/10
This looks like a sure W for Favreau. May he continue to succeed.
Final Score- 6-2 Favreau is very talented and versatile. He is capable of making very good movies both big and small budget. Very likable films (with few exceptions).
Jon Favreau is scheduled for only one new project right now. The Jungle Book 2. I would be disappointed if Favreau only does this franchise now. I hope he will still branch out and do passion projects as well. (Though, sometimes it is nice to be paid well and Disney probably does that. If you are good.)