Julie and Julia, a review times two (book and movie)

Yes I know, I know, this is old and not very interesting by now, but because I love food movies, I have to get this out of my system, mostly because if I put it down in words, I’ll stop saying to my husband, “I can’t believe…….”

Just so you know where this is coming from, as a kid my heroes were Wonder Woman and Mrs. Peel, graduating to when I first started working in a restaurant at the tender age of 13, to Wonder Woman, Mrs. Peel and Julia Child. (to find out JC was a SPY as well was just the icing on the cake!) Watching Julia on PBS at a fairly young and impressionable age I am sure had something to do with it as well.

I read Julie and Julia several months ago and was going to write about it, but then figured I’d see the movie first and then do it (Viva la Netflix, the movie finally came available), so my take away about the book a bit later, leaves me with just the things that stick out: Julie is not a cook, she’s a half baked bit of a whiner. She is a good writer though, I do give her credit for that, but on the cooking end, shoe times two comes to mind.

I could have done with a bit less of the TMI personal information and more on the how she managed to mangle so many of JCs recipes (had to go to her blog for that), because I was highly amused while being horrified at the same time. It’s no wonder JC wasn’t impressed with her because my main thoughts were “Ye gods man, how could you have done that to a………….????” Utter horripilation! (a word I have always wanted to use and this will be probably the first and last time I ever will, i.e the emotional stress and resulting goose bumps evinced from the words being absolute horror).

On to the movie, we ended up watching it in two parts, it wove between blips about Julia (wonderful) and bits about Julie (snore). The first night I couldn’t keep my eyes open (long day at the computer) and had not anticipated that they (the writers/directors) would skim over what seemed like the second half of the book in a short and brief period, so we killed it with apparently only about 10 minutes to go.

My mistake. We hadn’t anticipated that they would skip over what seemed like a large portion of the book at that point, so who would have known.

I could have completely done without the Julie part of the movie anyway. Yes, Amy Adams does a fine job of portraying Julie as she comes across in the book, a whiny shoe who trashes some (most?) of JC’s recipes. We had just watched Amy Adams in Night at the Museum earlier this week as Amelia Earhart and she was terrific in that. She and Hank Azaria made at least portions of the movie funny.

But I digress. Meryl Streep on the other hand was absolutely fantastic as Julia and Stanley Tucci as her husband Paul was a gem. I wish they could just strip out the parts with Julie and make the whole movie with just JC in it, now THAT I would have loved!

Please oh Hollywood, do a movie Bio of JC with Meryl and Stanley!! Pretty please with Beurre Blanc on top?

I suppose if I was a home cook, I would find the whole thing interesting and perhaps not be so gosh darn picky, but having met JC several times (yes I know whoopee and la de da, but she WAS a hoot!) and idolized her for many reasons, not just for her cooking skills but what she did for women in cooking in general and also for helping to get many home cooks out of the Joy of Cooking rut. As a professional myself this just bothers me to the very core of my being because the thought of someone mangling her hard work is just…wrong!

JC was a professional and a scientific cook, she perfected her recipes so that pretty much anyone with half a brain could make them. To find out (and read in Julie’s blogs) about someone doing them half-assed (half-brained?) and then writing about how wonderful they are/were, just made me cringe. A single example would be http://blogs.salon.com/0001399/2002/09/01.html, read on if you have lots of time to waste and you want to join me in cringe inducing horripilation (had to stick that one in again).

And to be honest, I have a hard time digesting what the fuss was about, ok it may have been a novel idea but if you frack (thank you BSG for that lovely made up swear) up a tried and true tested recipe, you have not actually “made” the dish. I have to also muse on the fact that if this had happened now, when the number of people that blog, far, far, exceeds the amount of bloggers online back earlier in the decade, I honestly don’t think it would have gotten more then a passing glance; and of course then it wouldn’t have given poor JC  a reason to be a pill about it (and possibly stress induced heartburn).

Annnnnnnnnd one of the other things that stuck with me from the book (I notice they didn’t feel the need to put this in the movie)…………..maggots in the kitchen. Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Does this just not make me want to love Julie Powell like a sistah? Oh you lovely cooking diva, let me bow down to your sanitation skills.

In conclusion, if you’re a foodie: you’ll probably like this movie (maybe). If you’re a professional: highly recommended you fast forward over the Julie parts and just leave Meryl Streep to do a wonderful impression channeling JC. Ditto: the book. Julie Powell is a decent writer as I said earlier.

Although you may want to watch the small segment of the movie (Julie) where they are watching Dan Aykroyd  “do” JC on SNL or just go straight to Hulu and watch it there http://www.hulu.com/watch/3523/saturday-night-live-the-french-chef

Totally unrelated to the movie but  interesting, an  interview with JC’s personal assistant, Stephanie Hersh http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wuq1xfboAsw (she mentions the SNL skit as well)

About Chef Forfeng

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3 Responses to Julie and Julia, a review times two (book and movie)

  1. chefforfeng says:

    Hi Sarah, it’s great that your husband is cooking, dinner sounds like it was delicious!

    As Jeff had pointed out (and I think had deliberately blocked on remembering, was an aweful lot of swearing in the book. (and the blog) I used to swear up a streak in the kitchen very occasionally but this was a bit of overkill.

    In about a year I think I’ll watch the movie again (when the last vestiges of the book and blog have been erased from memory) and primed with a glass of wine or two, might have a different take on it. I know I’ll still worship JC forever though 🙂

  2. Sarah says:

    Yo H.
    I didn’t read the book. I loved the movie and found myself identifying with both Julia – since I too, (in my younger years), was a woman trying to master a traditionally men’s profession, and Julie, for her insecurities, bouts with self loathing and the tenacity to finally overcome and prevail. erhaps if I read the book I would feel differently.

    My hub and I quit smoking in September. He has decided to cook now and is channeling JC, I am sure of it. He made his first buerre blanc last friday night. We served it over steamed brussells and halibut. We giggled with delight, as it was perfect.

  3. Jeff says:

    I’ve been a cook and baker all of my life, though not professionally. Just for the love of it. Julia Child was one of my inspirations as a child and she is embedded in my heart.

    As for the book – feh. Boring, trite, and I have to say, we had the distinct feeling she really never cooked all of the recipes anyway. As you said, she’s a fair writer. Oh and the profanity. I’m definitely no prude, but I found it unnecessary and improperly placed. She just has a potty mouth.

    The movie – we loved Merill Streep and Stanley Tucci.

    I don’t know if a studio would do I movie on JC, but I’ll be there to watch it if they do.

    Thanks for the rant.

    Aloha, Jeff

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