'Julie & Julia' a hearty laugh

Posted: Thursday, August 13, 2009

Occasionally a movie comes along that attracts a theater full of real grown-ups - as opposed to potentially obnoxious teenagers like those you may just find at "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra." You know, people that don't just act like they know it all, but might actually know it all because they've lived long enough. I'm not saying "old people," I'm saying "adults." While the "G.I. Joe" audience goes through puberty a couple screens down, their parents can relax and enjoy Meryl Streep and Amy Adams in "Julie & Julia."

Courtesy Of Movietrailersworld.com
Courtesy Of Movietrailersworld.com

The film, written and directed by Nora Ephron ("You've Got Mail" and "Sleepless in Seattle"), is based on the book by Julie Powell, which was inspired by the blog Powell decided to write on a whim. In the movie version of events, the loveable Amy Adams plays Powell. Her motivation is straight forward enough: She hates her job, she loves cooking. So, to preserve her own sanity she gives herself a big side-project.

She'll cook her way through Julia Child's book on French cooking; 524 recipes in 365 days.

"Julie & Julia" has the added wrinkle of cutting back and forth between Powell (in modern day New York City) and Child circa 1949. Not only does this go a long way toward keeping the film interesting, but it also allows Meryl Streep (Child) and Stanley Tucci (Paul Child) to shine. I would not have thought it possible that a towering woman with a funny voice and a shorter, balding man as a couple would be so damned cute. That, however, is exactly what Streep and Tucci are as the Childs.

Ephron does well in demonstrating how similar Julie & Julia are, albeit in totally different times. They also both have wonderful husbands (which is why it's depressing to research Powell afterward and discover she's now divorced), and in fact the majority of the truly charming moments on screen come from interactions between Streep and Tucci or Adams and Chris Messina, who plays Powell's husband, Eric.

The experience of "Julie & Julia" is probably best summed up by a scene featuring nothing more than Streep, a pile of onions, and Tucci. Child, having just been embarrassed at culinary class because she didn't know how to quickly cut up an onion, is in the kitchen chopping away. On the cutting board next to her is a growing heap of chopped onions; she has no intention of being embarrassed again. Paul starts to come into the kitchen only to have to stop in the doorway and dab at his quickly welling up eyes.

A theater full of real grown-ups laughs heartily. And there are several such moments in "Julie & Julia."

If you're looking for a break from the "G.I. Joe" crowds, I'm not sure a better opportunity is out there.

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