To be perfectly honest and up front, I don't like Julia Roberts. There! I said it! I know she's America's Sweetheart and everyone loves her, but I never found her to be a good actress and has coasted by all these years on her cuteness and her ability to get weepy on command. However, the reason why Eat Pray Love wasn't good has nothing to do with her shortcomings. This is the film version of the New York Times Bestseller by Elizabeth Gilbert and it's her memoir about her life and this experience she had. It's gotta be hard for Gilbert to put up with criticism for this movie since the only thing to really not like about it is HER! This film is over two hours long and every single second of it is dedicated to her and how unhappy she is because of...well, I don't know. This woman has EVERYTHING and is still miserable. Ironically funny though since the reoccurring theme in the film is that Americans don't know how to enjoy pleasure and really let themselves go. The "problems" that Gilbert faces couldn't be more "American." She's selfish. She's rich. She's unfeeling. Does she learn anything by the end of the movie? Sure she does. After galavanting around the globe in paradise settings, not working, she damn well better or she should have her passport taken away and shoved down her throat. Do I care at all that she changes by the end though? Not one bit. She gets to spend an entire year of her life living in Italy eating her way to happiness, India praying her way to forgiveness and Bali where she loves her way back to health. Awe. Poor her! This book is insanely popular (my mother and brother are among the millions that love it) but I have NO IDEA why anyone would stomach this completely unlikable woman. The sad part is that the movie looks amazing, which is a shock since it was directed by Glee's Ryan Murphy. It also has some inspired and hypnotic performances by Billy Crudup (Big Fish, Watchmen), James Franco (Pineapple Express, Spiderman), and Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men). The best performance, however, comes from the amazing Richard Jenkins (Burn After Reading, Step Brothers) who should get Oscar notice once again for this. His scene is so gut-wrenching and sad, but when you compare his pain to hers it just makes you not like her even more! The movie reminded me an awful lot of Sophia Coppolla's Lost in Translation. It's a story about someone who has it all and is still not happy. Boo freaking hoo. If that's a feeling you can identify with then consider yourself lucky and piss off. I haven't read the book. Maybe it's a lot deeper when it's her pure thoughts written on a page. But when put on a movie screen, even when it's being crafted by great actors, it's just indulgent, petty, privileged and annoying. Maybe it's called Eat Pray Love because those are three things that are a lot more enjoyable than watching this film.
Eat Pray Love (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: C