Julie & Julia (2009)
Meryl Streep is as she always is, which means to say she’s terrific as famous jubilant chef Julia Child. She’s got the sing-songy voice down cold, and Julia comes across like a spigot of joy, yelping with delight like a child. It’s hard to not find it adorable, and her husband (Stanley Tucci) is a kind, caring man who complements her well. The scenes between the Childs can be heartwarming and delightfully comic. However, for some weird reason, the Julia Child section is only half of this movie. Writer/director Nora Ephron decided to frame the movie with the biography of Julie Powell (Amy Adams) writing a blog in 2002. Huh? Powell wants to prepare all 500 recipes from Child’s best-selling book on French cuisine in one year. As you might expect, this whole section turns into a lot of narration over food preparation and Powell becoming increasingly narcissistic about her blog fame. The only real purpose this modern storyline serves is to add perspective to the Julia Child storyline, giving historical context to what we see Streep and Tucci struggle over. The real resonance is with Streep as the larger-than-life cooking personality and her upward climb to be taken seriously as a chef and as an author. I don’t care about Julie Powell. She keeps interrupting a better storyline. Apparently the real Julia Child didn’t care for Powell either, because late in the movie Powell discovers that the real Child (who died in 2004) thinks the whole blog thing is a gimmick. And isn’t it? Then again, isn’t having Streep as Julia Child a gimmick of casting? Julie and Julia would have been better served if it had completely carved off the Julie section.
Nate’s Grade: B