Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Looks Great, Less Thrilling

Julie & Julia

Release: 08.07.09
Rated PG-13
2 hours, 3 minutes


A couple weeks back, me and my two movie buds purchased tickets to our latest weekend distraction. As we entered into the theater lobby, something seemed wrong. As I looked around, I came to the only logical conclusion, which spun me on my heels and back out the door. I arched my head to the sky, certain I'd spy a hovering mothership. No, I don't live in Johannesburg and wasn't duped into thinking the prawns had landed. From the crowd within the theater's walls, I was certain it was Cocoon: The Return all over again. Seriously, I couldn't believe the gobs of elderly people weren't being led by Wilford Brimley astride a white stallion, or at the very least, Brimley on a Hover-Round painted white and trimmed in silver.

Turns out, the nursing home had loaded up the residents, delayed their ususal 4pm dinner, and dropped them off for the late afternoon show of Julie & Julia. Makes sense since most of these folks would have been young homemakers during the dawning of the era of Julia Child (Meryl Streep, Adaptation). Specifically, the film adapted and directed by Nora Ephron (What Women Want) focuses half its attention on the rise of Julia Child as a culinary force. Her story begins as she and husband Paul (Stanley Tucci, Swing Vote) move to France and continues as she writes her first cookbook.

Ephron balances Julia's story with that of Julie Powell, a struggling writer who starts a blog chronicling her endeavor to complete Julia Child's book of 524 recipes within a year. Amy Adams plays Julie and was largely recognizable by this geriatric crowd as Streep's costar in Doubt, the movie they saw on their last field trip. Where Julia and Paul are portrayed as a perfectly amorous couple, the relationship between Julie and her husband, Eric (John Messina, Away We Go), is strained by the stress of her blogging project.

In both worlds, the obstacles presented to Julie and Julia are never dire or degrading. Julia is despised by only one of her Cordon Bleu professors. Julie feels inadequate when compared to her more successful peers. Julie confides her marital troubles to best friend Sarah, played by Who's That Lady Mary Lynn Rasjkub (Sunshine Cleaning). Julia has to find a husband for her big sis, Dorothy, played by another Who's That Lady, Jane Lynch (Role Models). Julia and her colleagues write a French cookbook that is exceptionally lengthy. Julie has resigned herself to a government job instead of her writing dream. This is not so much a tale of overcoming overwhelming odds as it is a light-hearted romp over life's little speedbumps.

Dirty Undies
From the animalistic grunts and purrs of the aged audience, you would have thought we were watching Eyes Wide Shut or 9 1/2 Weeks. In actuality, the oohs and ahhhs were at the sight of the exquisite-looking meals prepared and eaten by the ladies. Butter-slathered filet of sole, decadent chocolate cake and beef bourgogne made many a viewer orgasmic. I have to admit, the meals were the most delectable looking things onscreen, and that's saying a lot, given I'd gobble up Amy Adams.

The Money Shot
Julie & Julia is as light anf fluffy as the Bavarian cremes you could whip up from Julia's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Streep and Adams deliver the goods with their usual poise, though these portrayals didn't require that much heavy lifting. Still, the congenial costars and delectable food add a pinch of fun into an otherwise forgettable film.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Large Association of Movie Blogs

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