Sunday, March 7, 2010

Paragraph Movie Reviews: Julie & Julia

If you don't have plans to see this movie, you can check the spoilers here and then come back.

I watched this movie pretty much only to see if I should pick Meryl Streep in my Oscar pool but ended up walking away with quite an enjoyable experience. To get to the heart of the matter right away, yes, Streep is suitably brilliant as usual and even with the incredible body of work she has, this ranks as one of my favorite roles I've ever seen her play. I'm not familiar with the actual Julia Child in the least, but the energy, charisma and fun Streep pours into her version had me breaking into grins and fullblown giggles every other minute; she has a good time portraying a woman having a good time and thus, surprise surprise, I had a good time watching. A boatload of credit however should also go to Stanley Tucci, who plays her husband and has an ease of chemistry with Streep that was a joy to watch and completely sold you on one of (if not) the pivotal relationships of the film. Tucci is a wonderfully grounding presence quite different from Streep's exuberant Julia, but you never doubt for a moment that they share a deep and powerful love, clearly relishing the opportunity to play opposite one another. It just makes you happy to see a couple not in their 20's lighting up the screen with passion and support for one another. Jane Lynch is marvelous in a quick turn as Julia's sister while Linda Emond is a lot of fun as her French collaborator. However, it's almost a disadvantage for the movie that Streep and company bring their world to such luscious life, as that's only half the film and makes the modern(ish) day where Amy Adams as manic blogger Julie mostly stuff you want to fast forward through to get back to Julia. I have to give Adams a lot of credit in that she isn't given much to work with playing what I'm guessing is at least a fairly exaggerated version of Julie Powell who is for the most part petty, petulant and unlikable with pretty blah dialogue and plot that just feels small next to Julia's grand arc, but you can really see her doing her damndest to make it work and a couple of times her charm is enough, but mostly it's not. I enjoyed Chris Messina a good deal as her patient husband, but again, he pales in comparison to Tucci. Mary Lynn Rajskub and the rest of Julie's supporting cast are non-factors, cliches or both. However, both eras did a fantastic job of portraying the art of cooking as being vibrant and rich, as well as make me very hungry. Julie & Julia is one really good movie and one decent movie mashed together where the end result is fun, but runs perhaps a bit too long and makes you wait too long between courses; great comfort food though.

1 comment:

Twyst said...

I enjoyed this movie, overall, too. I agree with your sentiments about the Julie vs Julia worlds -- I thought i would like Julie, but she was really "petulant" which is the perfect word.