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My thoughts on "Julie & Julia"

What is it with the two-part movies this summer? "Funny People" suffered greatly by being divided equally in half by a good Part One and a not so good Part Two. "Julie & Julia" suffers from a somewhat similar fate but the end result is much better.

The main difference in "Julie & Julia" is that the movie is split up via two dueling storylines throughout the entire movie and you won't be able to get up halfway through and leave.

In storyline #1, Amy Adams is Julie - modern day blogger (like me but much cuter). Her performance is decent considering what she has to work with. Her story is just not that interesting - she is writing a blog about cooking all of the recipes in Julia Child's 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking' in just 365 days. She is doing this to get herself out of the rut of her government job and her nagging mother. You will get annoyed with her because she seems to value getting a book contract more than doing all of this to actually have some sort of life-changing and positive experience.

The 365 days of recipes fly by because you really don't pay attention to her storyline. Yes, she has "meltdowns" and snobby friends and several cooking accidents. That's all interesting (kinda? maybe?) but you lose track of what she is doing while waiting for the movie to move back to Julia's story. I will give a thumbs up to Chris Messina who plays her extremely patient husband. In real life, this marriage nearly ended not long after she published her book but none of this is discussed in the movie.

The payoff is in storyline #2. Meryl Streep makes Julia Child real to a generation that has most of their memories of her based on a caricature (For those of you not really old enough to remember Julia Child at her heyday but only know the Dan Aykroyd skit - you'll be totally blown away) and she is Oscar-caliber good.

We start with Julia going to cooking school in Paris and we follow her and her husband (played absolutely perfectly by Stanley Tucci - an Oscar supporting actor nomination will have to come from this or the Academy is full of idiots) and co-writer Simone Beck (played by Linda Edmond - this is also a wonderful nomination-worthy performance) from Julia's first day at cooking school up through the publishing of 'Mastering the Art...'.

The Julia Child story is so well done that it makes the Julie Powell story look worse than it actually is. Julie's blogging storyline is really uneventful. Am I supposed to feel sorry for her having a good job and a loving spouse? However, Amy Adams and Chris Messina do as much as they can with what is in the script. They are strong actors trapped in a not so strong story.

I wish the whole movie was all about Julia Child - it was that good. Who knew she was so awesome? That's the feeling you have watching this and after leaving the theater. She conquered so many stereotypes and did it with such incredible grace. It's a movie I want my daughters to watch when they are older because I want them to believe in themselves at her level.

You'll find yourself drifting through the storyline #1 scenes but it is worth it. This is a great movie that I highly recommend. If the movie ended at the moment when Julia's husband opened her newly published cookbook instead of Julie's anti-climactic visit to Julia's kitchen at the Smithsonian, it would be just about perfect.