Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Julie & Julia

Directed by Nora Ephron.
2009. Rated PG-13, 123 minutes.
Meryl Streep
Amy Adams
Stanley Tucci
Chris Messina
Linda Emond
Helen Carey
Mary Lynn Rajskub

Plot: In 1949, Julia Child (Streep) begins the journey which will make her a giant in the cooking industry. In 2002, Julie Powell (Adams) starts a blog and challenges herself to cook every recipe in the icon’s legendary cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking. within 365 days. Based on two true stories.

The Good: It’s kinda hard to talk about a Meryl Streep movie and not start with her. As Child, Streep is a force of nature that simply dominates her every scene. As fine an actor as Stanley Tucci is, he plays her husband, he simply doesn’t stand a chance because he constantly shares the screen with her. She is “that” good. The movie does a nice job with the more contemporary story of Julie Powell and the strain her quest puts on her marriage. Adams and Messina make a very nice screen couple. As a pleasant surprise, it’s him we wind up rooting for.

The Bad: The telling of the two stories together rob the chronologically earlier part of any mystery. In any biopic, particularly of someone as famous as Child, there’s already an air of inevitability. That feeling is multiplies every time we switch back to Powell and continuous gushing over the icon. While the story of Julie and her husband is done well, it’s predictable. Their half of the movie feels like any number of the rom-coms we’ve already seen.

The Ugly: How Julia reacts when she learns of Julie.

Recommendation: J & J is a movie that really shouldn’t work as it’s constructed. On paper, it seems like it would be better as two separate films. However, the strength of the portrayals, not only by Streep but also by her cast-mates, makes the end result greater than the sum of its parts. Of course, if you require the slightest hint of testosterone-charged excitement to have a pleasurable viewing experience, look elsewhere.

The Opposite View: Kimberley Jones, Austin Chronicle

What the Internet Says: 7.2/10 on imdb.com (6/1/10), 75% on rottentomatoes.com, 66/100 on metacritic.com

MY SCORE: 6.5/10

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