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Overall Rating

Awesome: 4.35%
Worth A Look58.7%
Average: 36.96%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

5 reviews, 16 user ratings

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Julie & Julia
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Next up: 'I Can Has Cheezburger: The Movie.'"
4 stars

She wasn't born with the name she was born Julia McWilliams but "Child" was the perfect label for Julia Child, in a good way. She had a childlike enthusiasm for food preparing it, eating it, spreading the word about it. That much-imitated looping trill of hers sealed the deal: on TV, she sounded downright giddy about teaching you, the average American, how to cook delectable French dishes.

In Julie & Julia, Meryl Streep rescues Julia Child from parody and plaster-sainthood. Streep's Julia is devoted to sensual pleasures, and yes, that includes jumping the bones of her adoring husband Paul (Stanley Tucci). Julia doesn't start out as a master chef she initially takes courses at Le Cordon Bleu to have something to do but she becomes one, because her passion for the fine things in life extends to food. If it isn't for enjoyment, what's the point? The beauty of cooking the scents, the sizzling and bubbling, the texture on the tongue, the sight of a gorgeously prepared meal that looks almost too good to eat, and of course the flavor can bewitch all five senses. Streep's half of Julie & Julia conveys the birth and growth of not only a guru but a person. It's a full, rich portrait, with subtly modulated support from Tucci.

There's another half, and it would seem to suffer in comparison. It follows Julie Powell (Amy Adams), a frustrated cubicle slave her apartment is practically a cubicle, too who takes it upon herself to cook every recipe in Julia's seminal book Mastering the Art of French Cooking over the space of a year and blog the results. The Julie sections (the film flips back and forth between Julia's 1950s and Julie's 2002-03) are at a distinct disadvantage. Julie has Streep, vintage-era Paris, and a color scheme that pops. Julia has Amy Adams, cute and likable but no Streep, in a cramped Queens apartment above a pizzeria.

The two halves never quite meet (Julie never got to meet Julia, who was reportedly underwhelmed by Julie's blog), but the movie works as a fable about long-distance apprenticehood. Julie, like Julia, needs to learn how to be a person. The script (by Nora Ephron, who also directed) presents a few facile parallels between the women, but doesn't push them too hard. What the bifurcated narrative expresses most clearly is that American women used to be made of tougher stuff. The 29-year-old Julie frets because she hasn't yet hit it big as a writer. Julia is 49, after years of plugging away at a 734-page manuscript that has already been rejected once, when Mastering the Art of French Cooking is finally published. Julia, of course, gets to spend about a decade in France, while Julie pays her dues in a Queens shoebox bumping into things and being awakened by freight trucks, but the cost of Julia's overseas adventure is Paul's government job, which routinely moves him and Julia around and once calls him on the carpet for questioning.

The word for Julie & Julia is charming. The women, divided so widely generationally, find their way to their own epiphanies. At the end, Julia's kitchen, preserved at the Smithsonian and visited by Julie (who leaves a pound of butter as an offering to the goddess), morphs into Julia's actual Cambridge kitchen, where she receives her first copy of her book. Julia was unique; Julie has built the house of her life on Julia's foundation, but she has also learned, by following Julia's book so avidly, to come alive to the pleasures of the senses.

It's an easy-going, pleasant film, probably Ephron's best since her 1992 directorial debut "This Is My Life," possibly because, like that movie about a struggling female stand-up, it comes out of something more personal for Ephron than some gimmicky rom-com. Few women of Ephron's generation haven't approached their kitchens as a shrine to Julia Child's life and work. The movie is Ephron's pound-of-butter tribute.

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originally posted: 11/27/09 11:39:48
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: Traverse City Film Festival 2009 For more in the Traverse City Film Festival 2009 series, click here.

User Comments

4/18/18 Suzanne Meryl Streep IS Julia Child. She and Tucci are delightful. 4 stars
4/14/16 Katrina Weiss Possibly not as interesting if you don't enjoy cooking. 3 stars
9/09/11 Nancy Meryl Streep did a great job playing Julia Child. Loved the movie 5 stars
7/22/11 Annie G Much better than I expected. My husband liked it too 4 stars
2/28/11 RLan Watch and see how Meryl Streep channels Julia Child. 4 stars
8/04/10 the dork knight cooking: SERIOUS BUSINESS 3 stars
3/03/10 Richard Brandt Like a great meal, this movie can bring tears to your eyes 4 stars
1/22/10 Ruby P. I really liked this film. Meryl Streep did a good job. Funny and inspiring! 5 stars
1/11/10 KingNeutron The girlfriend and I both liked it. A charming movie. 4 stars
12/14/09 Micah The Julie half wasn't as self centered as What Happens in Vegas or Ugly Truth. 3 stars
12/04/09 Ashley This was a cute little film. Meryl and Amy were both fantastic in their roles. 4 stars
9/08/09 Marie M. An ingredient in the recipe of this movie is lacking. 4 stars
8/27/09 R. G. Ranade What everyone has said: Meryl Streep's great, Amy Adams isn't. 3 stars
8/18/09 R.W. Welch Better than you might think. Strong leads. 4 stars
8/15/09 Carole L. Glickfeld When a film is this entertaining, its flaws don't matter. 4 stars
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  07-Aug-2009 (PG-13)
  DVD: 08-Dec-2009


  DVD: 08-Dec-2009

Directed by
  Nora Ephron

Written by
  Nora Ephron

  Meryl Streep
  Amy Adams
  Stanley Tucci
  Chris Messina
  Jane Lynch
  Dave Annable
  Mary Lynn Rajskub

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