Julie & Julia: Half Terrible and Half Marvelous

Julie & Julia: Half Terrible and Half Marvelous

David Giesbrecht

Half of this movie is marvelous. The idea of Meryl Streep playing Julia Child is manifestly fantastic, a loop of genius, and the reality surpasses the idea. In order to play Child, Streep ate Kermit the Frog: The voice—the chortle-yodeling, the vowels (my god, the vowels)—is perfect. Streep's physical embodiment of Child is perfect, too, both ungainly (Child towered, thick through the middle, over almost everyone) and graceful. Streep as Child is funny: The moments in which she masters, effortful and joyous, the art of French cooking at Le Cordon Bleu are comedy nonpareil. Streep as Child is sexy: When she looks down into Stanley Tucci's eyes and pulls down his suspenders in a scene that stops just before their daily Paris nooner: Oh! (Tucci, as short, shiny-domed, bespectacled Paul Child, is inarguably the new hot.) Streep as Child is moving: Her weeping is so piteous, so true. Every scene with her in it is endlessly engrossing. She opens an envelope on a porch, glancing slightly wildly over her shoulder, and it is magic.

Half of this movie is, especially by comparison, terrible. The latter-day also-based-on-a-true-story plotline concerns Julie Powell, played high-pitched and shallow-souled by Amy Adams. Powell is a blogger who cooked every recipe in Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, got a book contract, and is now deemed of interest to us by Nora Ephron and company. Adams is occasionally funny (though the lobster scene pales in comparison to the lodestar of cinema lobster scenes). Adams is not sexy, playing cute-but-icy when rejecting her husband's advances in order to meet her self-imposed one-year deadline. (Her husband, played by handsome, hair-having Chris Messina, flatlines even through their Big Fight, then takes her back for no clear reason.) Adams is anti-moving, as evidenced by her empty, perky rendition of a Paul Child line that, when Tucci does it, puts your heart in a vise. Not long into the film, when Adams comes on screen, a sinking disappointment is unavoidable.

The good news is that Julie & Julia is 123 minutes long. When the DVD comes out, you can skip the Julie scenes and revel in a full hour of Meryl-as-Julia. recommended


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possibly the only thing i will ever agree with BJC on.
Posted by darlingash on August 5, 2009 at 2:03 PM · Report this
smade 2
How long did she wash that chicken in the sink before she danced with it?
Posted by smade on August 6, 2009 at 8:23 AM · Report this
This is exactly what I've been suspecting/fearing, though not having read the book, there's no vested interest in the movie. It sounds like there is no sullying the awesomeness of Julia Child, which is a relief. I could easily watch 2 hours of Meryl Streep as Julia Child.
Posted by Rose on August 6, 2009 at 4:26 PM · Report this
this guy I know in Spokane 4
@2 - The gleam in her eye says to me that she's thinking about going down on it.
Posted by this guy I know in Spokane on August 6, 2009 at 4:40 PM · Report this
NikT22 5
I went to a sneak preview last night, and I really enjoyed the movie, I adore Meryl Streep, and really like Amy Adams. I didn't mind the Julie part, but Meryl just is delicious as Julia Child. So much so I went out and got the book "My Life in France" by Julia Child. She really lived life with such joy, I want to know more.
Posted by NikT22 on August 6, 2009 at 8:08 PM · Report this
I suppose the studios figured they couldn't market a movie about an old New England matron who did a cooking show over two decades ago on PBS, so they threw in a young neurotic hipster New York chick to appeal to the coveted 18-32 bracket.
Posted by K on August 7, 2009 at 7:45 AM · Report this
So well written. Made my day.
Posted by low_sea on August 7, 2009 at 11:12 AM · Report this

Dan Aykroyd deserved the Oscar for his unforgettable role as Julia in her Paris chophouse days as an anticoagulant junkie.

Streep learned everything she knows from Mr. Bass-O-Matic...
Posted by Ginsu Samurai on August 7, 2009 at 9:48 PM · Report this
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