Like my book reviews site, these are movie reviews I write for entertainment purposes only. These are just my reviews and my opinions. They are not endorsed by Blogger or any movie studios or anyone else. So there. I borrowed my scoring system from the Metacritic site, which does not imply an endorsement from them, although I think they do have a very nice website. I convert the 1-100 scores into 1-4 stars, essentially it works like this:

1 star = 25 points
2 stars = 50 points
3 stars = 75 points
4 stars = 100 points

And then if something falls about halfway between, then I'll give it an added half-star.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Julie & Julia

In sort of homage to the movie focusing on two completely time periods, I'm going to write this review as two completely different reviews.

The first review is the one for you, anyone who reads this.  On average I've noticed most people who comment on my reviews are female (or at least claim to be) and I think they'd enjoy this movie far more than I did, so I'm gong to direct this portion of the review at them.  OK, here goes.

When her life seems stuck in a rut, Julie Powell (Amy Adams)--with some advice from her husband--decides to spice things up by creating a blog and vowing to cook all 524 recipes in Julia Childs' massive "Mastering the Art of Fine French Cooking."  As you'd expect, this involves a lot of time and expense, which isn't easy considering Julie is just a phone jockey at an insurance company dealing with 9/11 victim families.

At the same time the movie chronicles how a bored ex-government worker named Julia Childs (Meryl Streep) decides to spice up her life in Paris by learning French cuisine.  As an American she faces an uphill battle against French snobbery, but in the end she becomes a real chef and endeavors to create a cookbook of French recipes for Americans.  This is a massive undertaking requiring much time and effort.

So you see how the lives of the two women are parallel.  In time Julie gains a lot of respect for Julia Childs, becoming sort of obsessed with her.  (The feeling is not mutual.)  And Julia gains the respect of cooks and publishers.  Woo hoo.

Basically it's a nice, gentle movie with no real shocks or twists--except maybe burning something.  I have never watched the real Julia Childs so I have no idea how well Meryl Streep impersonates her.  (I've heard negative comments on this but obviously the Golden Globe people thought differently, but then again they thought "Avatar" was the best drama, so I'm not sure I'd trust their judgment.)  I've never read the blog or book by Julie Powell either, so I have no idea how much of this is accurate.  (I thought I read in a review that she did not really come up with the blog in the manner portrayed by the movie, but I can't be sure.)

If you're looking for some harmless fun and great culinary ideas, then this is a good movie to watch.

My score:  62/100 (2.5 stars)

Metacritic score:  66/100 (2.5 stars)


OK, now let me say for those few men who might ever see this:  there is absolutely nothing in this for you.  Nothing.  The closest we get to action is that Julie has to kill some poor lobster to the strains of "Psycho Killer" by Talking Heads, though I think actually her husband does the deed.

There's no nudity, which come to think of it is just as well.  Do you want to see Julia Child naked?  No, no, a thousand times no!

From a purely artistic standpoint, this movie is as limp as a stick of butter left out in the sun.  Julia Childs is shown as plucky with a great can-do attitude.  Julie is slightly whinier but just as plucky.  Their respective husbands are supportive and that's it, though once Julie's husband grows a backbone and walks out on her.  Of course he comes back!  There are no surprises in this movie, except that the two women don't meet.  Since they probably took so many other liberties with reality, what harm could one more have done?  Really, they could have hugged and swapped recipes and it could have faded to black and most everyone would go home happy.

I was actually depressed by the time this movie ended.  What really bums me out is to think that Julie Powell got a book deal and a movie deal and yet her only discernible talent seems to be being able to follow directions from a cookbook.  It's the same feeling I get whenever I see Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian, complete no-talent whores who have never done a damned thing in their lives to deserve anything they have.  (OK, Julie Powell might not be a whore.  At the least she probably doesn't have a sex tape on the Internet--yet.)  She certainly didn't do anything that most anyone else could have done, so long as they could read directions in a cookbook.  You could say she stood on Julia Childs' ample shoulders.

And yeah, I'm jealous.  I'll admit it.  It's the same envy whenever someone like Madonna comes out with a crappy children's book or someone like Monica Lewinsky gets a huge advance for a book.  What the hell do they know about writing?  Not a bloody thing!  I work and strain, trying to produce a real story and wade through all sorts of muck trying to get the thing published while these no talent ass-clowns just saunter right up to a six-figure advance on a whim or because they were classless enough to get involved with some huge scandal.  This is the world we live in.  And it's not fair!  It's not fair at all!

F**k you Julie Powell, wherever you are.

That is all.

(PS:  What I learned from this movie is that all you need is some good schtick to realize dreams of fame and fortune.  You think Emotionally Unstable Film Critic has possibilities?  They could get Lewis Black to play me in the movie version since Sam Kinnison and Chris Farley are long dead.)

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