Julie & Julia: You Can Never Have Too Much Butter

julie-juliaWhoever placed the blame for American obesity on McDonald’s and its fast-food peers, shame on you! Julie & Julia, one of the year’s most delectable films, proves Julia Child was the real culprit: Julia and her obsessive, inviolable love for the culinary delights of France and especially its B-U-T-T-E-R. Yes, seldom has an edible item -- let alone a human -- been as highly praised or as erotically "whisked into submission" as has this dear, mutedly golden, highly caloric substance. With complete disrespect for those suffering from lactose intolerance, director/writer/producer Nora Ephron has created a sprightly, bombastic paean to fame, feasting, and infatuation. Ephron, who has always been witty and wise about life and romance on the page (e.g. I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts About Being a Woman), is even more so on the screen. She’s written such classics as Silkwood and When Harry Met Sally, plus she wrote and directed Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail. Pre-Viagra, she was the undisputed queen of the post-date-movie orgasm. Of course, she’s had her minor missteps (e.g. Bewitched; Lucky Numbers), but then who hasn’t? And now, at age 68, Ephron has created one of her most perfected, mature works, one that tackles McCarthyism, Francophilia, and feminism from post-World War II to post-9/11. She’s done so by integrating the lives of two engaging heroines. Child, who closed her oven door for good in 2004, was America’s unlikely kitchen goddess, promoting tasteful gluttony while supplying the world with alternatives to Marshmallow Fluff and Hungry Man frozen meals. She even insisted, “The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.” Loud and joyfully pushy, Child spent years trying to publish her chef-d’oeuvre, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. And, of course, she succeeded thanks to some very bright souls at Random House. Skip ahead a few decades and meet Julie Powell (Amy Adams), working in an office cubicle, dealing with those who survived 9/11 and the families of those who hadn’t. She tears up a lot, and gets even more depressed when her galpals wind up more successful than her. What can Julie do? She’s happily married and living in a large but semi-impoverished apartment in Queens. There has to be more. Why not write a blog about cooking Julia Child recipes for a whole year? The blog will, of course, become such a success that Julie will get a book and a film deal from it, causing this review to be written. What a review! And what a sensationally acted, wildly amusing film! Adams is admirable in the less thankful role. But it is Ms. Streep who bestows us with another dynamic, Oscar-worthy performance. She’s a walking, talking, rising soufflé who refuses to fall. A vibrating baguette. An impassioned risotto. (Do the French eat risotto?) Streep clearly energizes every scene she’s in--and in those she sadly isn’t. A warning to the waist-conscious and vegans: After spending two hours with her Child, you’ll want to chow down on a lobster or two that are doing the backstroke in lakes of butter—or debone a duck. Bon appétit! - Brandon Judell brandon.jpgMr. Judell is currently starring in Rosa von Praunheim's New York Memories, which is still in production. In the fall, he'll be teaching "The Arts in New York City" at City College. He has written on film for The Village Voice, indieWire, Detour, The Advocate, and dozens of other publications.