Friday, August 14, 2009

So I haven't seen Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince yet (but I want to), nor have I seen GI Joe yet (although that's not necessarily a must-see). However, we did go to see Julie & Julia yesterday. Not a particularly explodey movie, but probably more relevant to our lives than the other two.

It's based on a book by Julie Powell, detailing a year she spent cooking every recipe out of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and blogging about it. It's also based on Julia Child's autobiography of the years she spent writing the book, and her relationship with her husband. It stars Amy Adams (Amy McAdams? Rachel Adams? Can't keep them straight) as Julie Powell, and Meryl Streep as Julia, with Stanley Tucci (one of my favorite actors) as Julia's husband, Paul Child, and some Hollywood pretty boy as Julie's husband.

I had read Julie Powell's book, and enjoyed it. I liked the movie, too, but I think I liked the "real" Julie better. The movie just didn't really give a strong sense of the reasons why she decided to take on the project of cooking her way through the book. I get that a book is always going to be deeper and more introspective by its nature, but considering that the movie is about the Julie/Julia Project, explaining its origins is pretty much a necessity. Following on from that weakness, the movie Julie and her husband come across as fairly shallow, and a little too cute. When they do have problems, they seem to come out of nowhere, and get resolved just as easily.

The Julia Child segments, on the other hand, are a lot of fun. Perhaps there is nothing particularly earth-shattering about writing a cookbook, but that doesn't make the story any less interesting. Even more interesting is her relationship with her husband, Paul. Meryl Streep's portrayal of Julia Child is perhaps a bit broad (in the way that Las Vegas in the summer is a big hot) but Stanley Tucci--as Paul--is so grounded and down to earth and believable, he helps bring Meryl Streep down with him. He makes you believe that these are two people completely in love. And when we see them together like that, we understand that she isn't just some easily-parodied crazy chef. While perhaps best known for her passion about food, she was clearly passionate about all things in life, as this movie illustrates.

So, while perhaps not a completely successful movie, it's certainly one that I enjoyed.

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