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julie and julia
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Julie & Julia

Starring Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci and Chris Messina
Screenplay by Nora Ephron
Based on the books "Julie and Julia" by Julie Powell and
"My Life in France" by Julia Child and Alex Prud'homme
Directed by Nora Ephron
website:  http://www.julieandjulia.com/

IN SHORT: Best of the Year (so far). [Rated PG-13 for brief strong language and some sensuality. 123 minutes]

A brief History of American Family Culture: Once Upon A Time, Men worked and Women raised babies. Middle aged never married people and middle aged couples without children (those not beating their breasts about medical conditions) were considered i"suspect." That's 1950s speak for homosexual. Now's Upon a Time Men work and Women work and Gay couples can get married and adopt babies and young straight couples can't afford to do so. Some of this  yadda yadda applies to Julie & Julia. A lot of it doesn't. Then again, there's a huge generation gap between those that may have seen Julia Child as television's "The French Chef" and the youngest end of the Generation-Y group who wouldn't have the foggiest.  She may be a "name" for some reason, but modern kidlets have no reason to know why. Nora Ephron's Julie & Julia explains it all speedily and with great humor and, this is the best part, links all generations to this story by referencing a classic routine from Saturday Night Live.

Julia Child (Meryl Streep) and her diplomat husband Paul (Stanley Tucci) are first seen settling in to his post in Paris in the 1950s. They had been in China, which will cause problems down their timeline. Fifty or so years on Julie Powell (Amy Adams) and husband Eric (Chris Messina) are movin' on up from Brooklyn to a larger dump of an apartment in Queens. Julie works, in the post 9/11 New York, with the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. For those outside of the Big Apple, the LMDC was the organization designated to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Thus begins the parallel story of two bored housewives. The one in Paris takes cooking lessons. The one in New York, separated by decades of time, decides to crack open a copy of a classic cookbook the other housewife once wrote. She will spend her next year cooking every recipe in said volume, documenting her progress by posting daily reports on her progress on the salon.com website. Those postings, and the responses from the wide world of the 'Net, becomes a thing unto itself which, in turn, became (in real life). That book, paired with two of Child's own writings, brings us to this movie. While Julie and Julia will never meet -- unless, of course, they do -- they'll always have Dan Aykroyd in common. Truthfully, the SNL bit was on our mind as the lights went down in our screening. And, still truthfully, our audience went nuts went it showed on the big screen. If you know, you know. If not, there's this thing on television called repeat broadcasts . . . or these DVD thingies you can buy online (you want SNL season four, click here).

Each woman has her own set of problems to deal with. Adams' character never finishes anything she starts. The Childs' are trapped in the 50s stereotype of man works, woman breeds . . . except that, for reasons unstated, they are unable to do so. (Lord knows they try). It is a mark of great acting that, even in a scene with absolutely no words whatsoever, the performances by Streep and Tucci could break your heart. We probably said more than is necessary but if it gets you into the theater, so be it. We always expect spectacular performances from Meryl Streep. True, her last few movies have been way off the mark. Painfully so. Julie & Julia wipes that slate clean. And while there is no competition, Amy Adams holds her own "against" Streep just fine.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Julie & Julia, he would have paid . . .


Doing the math, there may be one or two movie going generations without any exposure to Julia Child whatsoever. This may not be "best" for them but it's still Top Ten by just about any other standard. See it.

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