City Paper is not for tourists
Julie & Julia Directed by Nora Ephron
Husbands, boyfriends, and anyone else not particularly interested in French cooking and feminine angst who is dragged to Julie & Julia should at least enjoy one moment: a clip of Dan Aykroyd channeling a bloodied Julia Child on Saturday Night Live.
Meryl Streep does an impressive impersonation, too, but big-girl body language and a parade of nearly high-British “Ooowwhhs!” is not enough to keep this two-plus hour film from turning into a snooze. Neither is its second story arc involving Julie Powell (Amy Adams), a real New Yorker and aspiring writer who, dissatisfied with her life, gave herself the assignment of making all of Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking recipes in one year and blogging about it.
That blog turned into a book, and now writer-director Nora Ephron turned that book into this movie, which is at its best when it’s showing Child as she fumbled her way to her calling. Streep and Stanley Tucci, playing Child’s husband, Paul, make an improbably lusty and fun couple. Adams, however, is mousy and underwhelming here, though even a wan role and sensible hair can’t keep the luminous actress from being unlikable.
Of course, nearly a cookbook’s worth of French food is also a co-star, and the film’s luscious food-centered moments will leave you eager to experiment. That is, after you wake from your doze. It seems impossible, but Ephron has crafted a movie that is bursting with butter and sweets yet ends up completely bland.