Julie & Julia is not a perfect movie, but if you are able to point out flaws in a Food Network recipe (like those seen in Zarela’s Creamy Rice Casserole or Chef Keith’s Jerk Chicken), then this film is perfect for you. It knows its target audience — those who like chick flicks, as well as foodies of all kinds — and caters… no pun intended… directly to them. It’s not a mistake that the filmmakers have promoted the film almost continually on the Food Network.
Julie & Julia is really two films in one. The more entertaining, enjoyable part features Meryl Streep playing a pitch-perfect impression of Julia Child. The film runs about two hours long, but really could have been stretched an extra 30 minutes based on Streep’s performance alone. The secondary portion of the film is Amy Adams’ take on a flustered blogger trying to work her way through Julia Child’s MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING cookbook in a year.
The reason the blogging aspect of the film gets bogged down is because we’re watching a film that exists solely because Julie was successful in blogging her way through the book. Like Titanic, we already know how the film is going to end. There’s no danger, risk, or excitement in wondering if Julie is going to pull off her project, or fail miserably at the end of the film.
While we do enjoy the trials and tribulations Julie goes through in figuring out how to debone a duck or properly cook three lobsters (that scene reminded Web Watch of our own kitchen experience with shellfish escaping
from the pot of boiling water and running across the kitchen counter – maybe WE should start a blog, too!), there just ends up being no strong connection with Julie, her very hungry husband, and the audience. While vital to the film as it creates a story for the audience to follow and showcases the accessibility of the recipes in the book, the modern scenes almost leaves a bad taste in the viewer’s mouth.
That is not true of the flashbacks showing where Julia Child becomes a cooking teacher sensation; those scenes are riveting and riotously entertaining – in part as Julia’s story is amusing, but also because it tells a backstory that not many people are familiar with. We’ve seen Julia on TV, but don’t necessarily know how she got there. Streep’s performance was so spot-on to our untrained eye, that we couldn’t tell if portraits and TV clips were the real thing or a Streep imitator.
Streep redeems herself in the Chick Flick genre from last year’s mostly forgettable Mama Mia! with this performance, and it wouldn’t surprise Web Watch if she received a few award nominations at the end of the year. Beyond being a chick flick, Julie & Julia can make for a good date movie that goes well with a post-film dinner and bottle of wine or two – in part, because the food in the film looks so darn good. It almost makes Web Watch want to work our way through the cookbook ourselves.
It certainly left the audience we saw the film with hungry for more.