By Roger Longenbach
Aug 16, 2009 11:28 AM EST

Julie & Julia Theatrical Review

Julie & Julia Theatrical Review
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It's not very often that Hollywood can make TWO different books into ONE movie, but perhaps they found the perfect vehicle to try it. Julie & Julia is based on the book which is also its' namesake, and "My Life in France" by Julia Childs. The latter being an autobiography of Julia Childs life, and the former being a book about a blog where a struggling writer Julie Powell decided to make all of Julia Childs recipes from one of her books within a year. And write about it online. I haven't read the book or read the blog, so all I have to go on is the movie.
Written for the screen and directed by Nora Ephron, who also did the same for Bewitched and You've Got Mail, the film stars Meryl Streep, Amy Adams and Stanley Tucci.
Story/Script/Plot Development (C): The Julia Childs portions of the movie were the best, with necessary character development, growth, appropriate dialogue, great humor, and emotions (even though a major issue was hinted at and never brought out in the open). In fact, that major issue could have linked the two stories a bit better it never was brought up - instead you'll be subjected to switching between two different stories with usually a not-so-clear reason for the whens. Julie Powell's story was the weakest. Major events occur in her storyline with very little background to why they happened or for what purpose. I guess you could say that the viewers are expected to think of why, but one of the storyline plot points is thrown at you before you can even see the background of the character, which is not written to be sympethetic to at all. I didn't feel any sympathy for Julie Powell, while I did for Julia Childs. I would give an A for just the Julia Childs portion if I could.
Cinematography (B): A decent movie from the cinematography perspective, no weird camera angles or shots. At the same time not great, just above average, so a B grade here.
Acting/Chemistry (A): I wanted to grade this a B but it wouldn't be fair for the Julia Childs portion here. So I'll start with Julie Powell's story. Amy Adams(Enchanted), who plays Julie Powell, is a wonderful actor, but I think a good actore has to have the right material to work with. And I don't think this was the best role for her to feature her talents.   I didn't feel any chemistry between her and Chris Messina, who plays Julie's spouse. It was Meryl Streep who steals this show. I will not be surprised if she is nominated for another Academy Award for her role of Julia Childs - to her mannerisms, vocal inflections, accent - she nailed it. Her, along with Stanley Tucci playing her husband Paul, delivered when it mattered - you will feel along with Julia Childs as she is taught how to cook like the French, and how she co-wrote her first cookbook, along with the other things in her life. This movie is worth watching to see her perfomance alone.
Use of locations/costumes/special effects (A): It looks like they shot a good portion of this movie in France for the Julia Childs' portion - I couldn't tell if it was a backlot or the real thing, so for that it'll get an A. Julie Powell's story basically takes place in either her work cubicle or her apartment over a pizza joint in Queens.
Movie Score (C): I consider the movie's score important on how it helps the movie along. The score was unremarkable but not bad - average, so just a C.
Final Grade: (B). A midgrade B, saved from being a C by Meryl Streep's performance. An unintentionally funny movie at times (again, mainly during the Julia Childs' story), it makes me want to see Ms. Streep reprise the role of Julia Childs in the future. So if you're looking for a cute little date movie or if you want to see some really great acting (for half of a movie, again, it's the material), go see Julie and Julia before it leaves the theatre.

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MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 123 minutes
Distributed By: Columbia Pictures

For more information about Julie & Julia visit the FlickDirect Movie Database.

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