Happy Happiest 5-4 birthday to Happy Hogan himself, Jon Favreau! To celebrate, we're promoting the Mandalorian creator and MCU veteran's 9 best films that he was both featured in and played a hand in bringing to the big screen.
At age 30, Favreau had his breakout moment playing a version of his twentysomething self in this tale about guys being guys in '90s Hollywood, trying to make it in the industry and canvassing the neighborhood at night in back-alley bars, hipster dives and swing-dancing emporiums. Favreau got the project rolling not only as the headline star, but the film's original screenwriter. Was he really "so money?" Oh yeah. He was a dual (sometimes quadruple) threat from the very beginning.
An underrated master class in Favreau's filmography is his notable reteaming with his pal and "Swingers" co-star/fellow movie idol Vince Vaughn – about an L.A. man (Favreau) tied to a low-rent mobster whose life further devolves into chaos when called to do a job in NYC. Complicating things is his grating buddy (Vaughn) that he unwisely allows to tag along. It's sort of a darker "Swingers" and perhaps even a more affecting film – starring, directed, produced and written by the ever-ambitious filmmaker.
Long before Marvel and "The Mandalorian," the industry first took wide notice of Favreau's skill as a director with this breakout hit for star Will Ferrell as the adopted "Elf." While we've heard rumor that Ferrell and his co-star/director didn't always see eye to eye (maybe that's why no "Elf 2"?), there's no arguing with the results. Favreau once again proves that he makes funny movies that have some genuine layers – or at the least, he knows how to showcase a comic superstar who can connect. It's a talent that would come in handy a few years later.
With the advent of MCU filmmaking, and its eventual domination of worldwide cinema, director Favreau proves to be a key player just as important as Robert Downey Jr. The first mega Marvel superhero movie isn't just a showcase for Downey Jr.'s supreme confidence and razor-sharp wit. It's also a genuinely great film, with Favreau showing that he could handle an ever-ballooning budget and produce a lighter superhero movie (as opposed to the DC stuff) that's high on action and entertainment value.
We'll admit, "Couples Retreat" isn't that great. But it is a fun chance to see Favreau and Vaughn re-teamed in a disposable comedy that finds them, their buddies and all their better halves attending a couples retreat on a tropical resort. The scenery is lovely, and co-stars Jason Bateman and Faizon Love, along with Kristin Davis, Malin Akerman, Kristen Bell and Kali Hawk are all fine comic accomplices. Plus, the script by Favreau and others provides an amusing scenario to see the '90s swingers all grown up.
6Iron Man 2
To a degree, director/exec producer/onscreen Happy Hogan's sequel makes good on the first "Iron Man's" promise. It's bigger. It's bawdier. But is it better? We don't think so. Still, it keeps the "Iron Man" and "Avengers" series rolling on the tracks and introduces Scarlett Johansson as primary badass Black Widow. The threads of the plot (something to do with the military and contractors coming for Tony Starks technology) don't always add up, but if you're looking for Downey Jr. doing what Downey Jr. does best – this one does just fine.
The real feather in Favreau's cap is this amazing (and amazingly small-scale) tale about an A-list LA chef who gets tired of it all, decides to give it up, and buys a food truck to travel the country with his son making Cuban cuisine. Another film written/directed/produced/starring Favreau, it's a winning recipe that's funny, dramatic and emotionally engaging…and features no sci-fi/action sequences whatsoever.
Comedy Drama / 2014 / R
8The Jungle Book
The first of Favreau's live-action/CGI Disney films (the other being the less celebrated yet still box-office victorious "Lion King" update), "The Jungle Book" is a fantastic modern version of the 1967 animated film everyone knows and loves. It even has a few new touches and characters, including Fred, the pygmy hog that Favreau voices.
Capping our list is 2019's final "Avengers" film, executive produced and featuring Favreau in a small but critical appearance as Happy, promising to support and usher in the new generation. He was there at the beginning with "Iron Man," so it's only fitting that he's here to lend a hand at the end.
About the Author
Chuck is an editor/writer who's worked for NCM, Fandango, Movies.com, MediaTrip, Hollywood.com and Newsweek. His favorite movie is "Jaws." He's definitely a dog guy.