‘Julie & Julia’ not easy film to swallow

David Wiens

When I found out that I was reviewing “Julie & Julia” this week, I was a little bitter. It is not that I was too close-minded to see a movie so far outside my preferences, but that I had to see a movie based on a book which was based on a blog which was based off of a cookbook written by someone else. It was only slightly less offensive than someone reading a book, writing their feelings about each chapter and selling those opinions as a new book. Nonetheless, I decided not to let my distaste dictate my review of the entire film.

“Julie & Julia” is about Julia Child’s quest to bring French to American homes and Julie Powell’s quest to, um, cook everything in Julia Child’s cookbook and, well, write down what she cooked and how she felt about it.

The movie alternates between the two stories equally, which is unfortunate, because if the movie had spent more time on Child, we might have seen some of the fascinating things that happened before she got to France that were mentioned merely in passing as she sat around complaining to an old woman how their friend is not pulling her weight. The constant back and forth every five or 10 minutes only serves to prevent the audience from having a chance to emotionally invest in either character. Furthermore, the entire film uses some of the most obvious, “based-on-a-true-story” biopic cliches in the book.

To their credit, both Meryl Streep and Amy Adams do their best trying to make this seem like a legitimate movie, but the utter absence of any substantial plot weighs this movie down too much for it to have any affect. The sheer fact that in the movie the world’s most supportive husband calls the author narcissistic is overly dramatic. And the fact that Child outright disapproves of Julie Powell’s project should have been a clue to publishers or producers that this story was not substantial enough to be told.

In the end, “Julie & Julia” is probably not as bad as I made it out to be (although the ending itself where it tells us in big bold type how Julie’s blog was turned into a book and that book was turned into a movie was so tasteless it actually offended me).

I went ahead and checked around with a few different people whose opinions are usually worth listening to. Not one of them put this movie above mediocre.