Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Jeff reviews "Julie & Julia," plus other notes

- I took Val to see Julie & Julia Monday afternoon, a film that is fun for people like us who enjoy watching the Food Network to see how great it looks to cook such fancy meals, but neither can't match the recipes nor do we have a tremendous desire to try it ourselves. We're mac & cheese folks, and fine with that.

Meryl Streep is simply delicious as Julia Child, the gregarious and excitable redhead cook who changed a generation of women in the kitchen, way before Martha Stewart even dreamed of committing stock fraud. Funny thing is, if you look at clips of Child herself, Streep is channeling what we think of Child as a pop culture stereotype. Which is fine. There's plenty of depth and truth to her story (and the funny voice is all there) without trying to go overboard in re-inventing the iconic cook for a new generation.

As Julia's hubby, Paul, Stanley Tucci plays it straight as the loyal lover to a bigger-than-life wife, letting her play among hobbies until she finds a true obsession as a French cook. The scene where he comes home to find her trying to master the art of chopping onions is hilarious, both in tears because of the stack of dozens of onions that she's gone through, and his completely understanding of why she's doing so.

Amy Adams is actually supposed to be the film's focus as Julie Powell, a married woman in a dead-end job who never made it as a writer but finds her inspiration during a year of making every recipe in Child's cookbook, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," all the while blogging about it. Val got a kick out of the talk between her and her husband, Eric (Chris Messina), as he supported her blogging though made sure she didn't go overboard. Because, golly, what kind of narcissist weirdo would just write about their lives, for better or meltdown, for anyone to read?

I've read a lot of criticism that the scenes with Amy Adams drag the film down, but I still found her to be charming and lovable as always, if not as bubbly as, say, in "Enchanted." It got a little weird the further she fell into the chick-crush she had on Julia, but hey, I watch Red Sox games and get a little too invested in whether Jonathan Papelbon has the look of a winner from night to night, so who's to judge?

I don't think you have to be a foodie to enjoy "Julie & Julia," and I don't think you even have to know the difference between Julia Child and Paula Deen (besides, both use more butter than is churned in Canada any given year). I think it's a lighthearted comedy with heart, and a tasty nibble of entertainment.

- I don't know who's voting, but anyone who thinks that root beer isn't the best flavor of Dum Dum pops, you're nuttier than a pecan pie!

- A couple of notes from the health care/town hall controversies surrounding Obamacare. First, from Jonah Goldberg:
For the record, I wish some of these protestors were a bit more civil. But I don't recall Nancy Pelosi declaring the Code Pink crowd "un-American." Moreover, if Pelosi and Hoyer had their way, these townhalls would be delivering a fait-accompli because the Democrats, starting with Obama, wanted their partisan version of health-care reform to be made law before the August recess. If they had won, there would be no debate, civil or otherwise, right now because they would have steamrolled the opposition already. So what are they complaining about?
Next up, from Mark Steyn:
Gotta love this "post-racial America": Democrat union heavies can beat up a black guy using racial epithets and leave him in a wheelchair unable to speak — and happily (unlike, say, a black professor being asked for picture ID) it's not "symbolic" of anything at all. Not a Sharpton in sight to speak up for him: Mr. Gladney's only shot at fame is an entry in The Guinness Book of Records under "Least Famous Black Hate-Crime Victim In America."

- Finally, a note of condolence to my big bro, Scott and his wife, Jenn. They had to put their 13-year-old pooch, Reagan, to sleep Monday morning as she was suffering from diabetes and cancer. Reagan was a big fluffy playful companion, and Scott and Jenn deserved many more years of walks with her. Val has lost five pets over her lifetime with her family, and says it never gets easy, nor should it. Here's hoping that our beloved pets meet us when it's all over down here.


erin said...

I've read the same things regarding Amy Adams in that movie, but it still looks completely charming to me. Do you think it's worth seeing in the theaters, or can it wait until DVD?

That is sad about your brother's dog. It is so painful to lose a pet.

Jeff said...

I think if you're feeling like seeing a movie, Erin, then it's a good one to choose. We had a good time, lots of laughs, plenty of sweet moments as well.

Stephanie said...

Mom really enjoyed Julie and Julia, too.

I love that picture of Scott and Reagan.

Scott Rushing said...

Thanks for the condolences. I noticed that Reagan was wearing her Tennessee Titans collar in that pic. I can't remember what happened to it now.

Some friends of ours came over Monday night to encourage us, and bring us a plant. They had also just seen Julie and Julia, and gave it two thumbs up.

Jeff said...

I'm glad y'all have so many friends to keep you company. I know Merton can only offer so much!