August 20, 2009

Movie Review: Julia & Julie

'Julia & Julie' is a movie based on two books – Julie Child's memoir, 'My Life in France,' and the book 'Julia & Julie' by Julie Powell. The latter was a follow-up to a blog about a year-long project Powell undertook to sort of kickstart her life: Cook every recipe in Julia Child's seminal cookbook, 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking,' (all 524 of them), over the course of a year. I've read 'Julia & Julie,' but not 'My Life in France' (yet).

Typically, I get annoyed by changes made when adapting popular books into movies, especially when they are big plot updates (I'm talking to you 'Cold Mountain' and 'My Sister's Keeper'!) – if the book was so good and worthy of adaptation, why are you changing the entire point of it? So, let's get the inaccuracies out of the way first: There was no big, dramatic, potentially marriage-ending fight in 'Julia & Julie'; Julie Powell wasn't a failed novelist – she was a sort of wannabe actress; turning 30 and finding out that she potentially might not be able to have kids were the catalysts for starting the project - she didn't have that group of uber successful friends that she was sort of trying to show-up by starting her blog; also, she had 2 cats and a snake (I know, big change, huh?).

Strangely enough, considering that it's based on true stories, none of these updates irked me (with the exception of the fight, which became way too much of a plot crux to have just been made up out of thin air). In fact, I was more offended by the trailer for the Peter Jackson adaptation of 'The Lovely Bones' we saw beforehand than I was by any of the changes they made to the book's plot (Seriously. Have you read that? Watch the trailer here and tell me what you think.).

I thought Meryl Streep & Amy Adams were pitch perfect (I found it hilarious the costuming decisions they made to try to make Amy Adams look a little “thick” - if there is one thing Amy Adams isn't, it's thick. Also, Meryl Streep is only 5'6". Julia Child was 6'2". Conveying that must have taken a lot of work!). Stanley Tucci, one of the most underrated and underused actors around, was also perfect in his role as Paul Child, and I expect we'll start seeing Chris Messina, who played Amy Adams's husband and who we recently saw in 'Away We Go', a whole lot more. Jane Lynch was a bit over the top as Julia Child's sister, but the scene after her wedding (trying to keep this spoiler free, everyone), is why the industry's all abuzz about Streep's guaranteed Oscar nomination.

I laughed (less than the preview would have you think, though) and I cried, and enjoyed pretty much every minute of the movie. Definitely recommended for Streep fans, foodies and everyone in between. 7.5 Twix bars!