Julie & Julia (2009)

Julie & Julia (2009) — So I’m not a huge fan of “chick flicks” and I was somewhat worried this would be one.  It wasn’t.  Okay, actually I guess it was but I rather liked it.  Probably because it was free of most of the reasons I usually hate chick flicks (except for one superficial argument between a husband and wife that is resolved rather quickly).  The film is not without its problems (like the previous parenthetical aside) and it is too long.  And I never felt the full potential of the material was reached.  As the previews suggest, it feels at time like two separate movies that don’t always gel cohesively.  At other times the parallels are pointed out in clumsily obvious ways (usually in the 2002 scenes).  The film mostly succeeds because of the cast.  Meryl Streep is full of joie de vive (90% sure I spelled that wrong even though I read it in other revues) and you can see why Child was so well-liked.  Amy Adams is adorable as always.  The surprises of the film though were Stanley Tucci and Chris Messina (who isn’t as good as he was with much less screen time in Away We Go [my favorite 2009 movie so far]).  The husband characters in these types of movies generally have very little to do (kind of like the wife characters in more male-oriented movies) but this movie really emphasizes how having someone makes life easier (or so I’ve been told… I’m going to run off and cry now).  I suppose I should declare my bias: I like good food, so the idea of a movie centered around cooking as a life-enriching pursuit is one that I somewhat respond to (as people familiar with my girth could probably attest to).  The 1950s scenes that basically serve as a light-hearted biopic about Julia Child.  Pretty much all of these scenes work and Streep’s chemistry with Tucci is fantastic.  The 2002/03 scenes are entertaining but don’t really develop the thematic resonance of the material.  A New Yorker going through post-9/11 angst and the weird crisis people seem to go through when they turn 30 turning her life around with a crazy project should work better than it does.  Adams and Messina make it work all right but it just feels like a supporting plot to the other storyline, when really the movie should work the other way around.  In closing I liked the movie (though I felt it could have been better) and left the theater hungry.

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