REEL LIT REFLECTIONS: JULIE AND JULIA

Julie and Julia Book Cover

Title: Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously
Author: Julie Powell
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: 2005
Summary: Nearing thirty and trapped in a dead-end secretarial job, Julie Powell decides to reclaim her life through cooking all the recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in the span of a year.

5 Things I Hate (and Love) About Julie & Julia

It would be quite difficult for me to write a standard review about Julie and Julia because  I have almost nothing to say about either the book or the movie. I will say Julie’s story wasn’t the worst memoir I’ve read. That distinction is still held by the ever annoying Elizabeth Gilbert and her journey to rediscover herself. Don’t get me wrong, Julie Powell is definitely annoying, but I still sometimes found her story to be endearing. Now let’s talk about the aspects of the book and the movie that brought me joy and whatever the opposite of joy is. Spoiler alert: Not many things brought me joy in this story, and some of the story will be spoiled.

1. There is NO WAY I would ever want to eat anything prepared by Julie Powell in her Queens apartment. Every time she shared the squalor of her domicile, I wanted to retch. The smell of stale kitty litter permeated the apartment. YUCK! Explosions of black goo from the pipes. YUCK! The stench of body funk from going days without running water. YUCK! I would have preferred to read more about French cuisine and less about Julie and Eric’s dirty cat litter filled home.

2. I was really disappointed with how unsupportive Julie’s mom was with her blogging adventure. I get that it was probably hard for Julie’s mother to understand what a blog is in 2001, but damn, can’t you support your kid’s creative endeavor?! Can’t you encourage your daughter to finish a project, even though she’s “never finished anything before in her life!” However, I was glad the other people in Julie’s life were very encouraging, especially her husband, which brings me to…

3. Why oh why did we have to have that unnecessary dramatic fight between Julie and Eric in the movie? I hate the movie using the jealous husband trope to cause drama because apparently all movie relationships need drama. It makes me even more upset because there were no such scenarios in the book. Julie’s husband was nothing but supportive and the perfect sous chef for Julie’s culinary adventures. If there were no crazy blowups in the book, then having it happen in the movie seems disingenuous because the Julie in the book was WAAAAAAAAY more annoying than the Julie in the movie.

4. Another disappointment from the book was the lack of Julia Child. Yes, there was mention of Julia, and there were the letters from Paul sprinkled throughout the story, but that wasn’t enough for me. First of all, I could have done without those letters because they really served no purpose. Secondly, if you were going to insert Paul’s letters, then there should have been more letters. If the book is called Julie and Julia, then give me more Julia.

5. Turning this Hater’s Ball around, I will say I’m happy with the movie’s take on Julie and Julia, and I have to admit that I actually preferred the movie to the book. I KNOW! You heard it here first, people! Mark this day on your calendar. It may never happen again! The main reason I prefer the movie over the book in this case is simply the inclusion of Julia Child and how she came to be. I also loved the parallel of Julie and Julia both working to find themselves and their own happiness through the love of food and cooking. Basically, the movie IS Julie and Julia. The book is the Julie/Julia Project. I enjoyed the former more than the latter.

Overall Opinion

The book was a constant up and down for me, but I mostly enjoyed it in the end. If you want to read a foodie version of a Carrie Bradshaw column, then Julie and Julia is a must read for you. If you want to learn more about Julia Child, then this book is definitely not for you. You will learn more about her during the movie. This may be the first time where I actually prefer the movie over the book because the movie told the story of both women as they came into their own.

The Final Grade

Laborious Literature: I wouldn’t say I hated Julie and Julia, but I definitely didn’t love it. I found it enjoyable for the most part, but there were some times when I just found the story infuriating, mostly due to how annoying Julie was acting at the moment.

Kettle Korn: I would put the movie on more of the sweet side because most of the story from the book was adapted well. The salty is due to jealous husband Eric blowing a gasket at Julie. It was out of place and unnecessary. I am not a fan of inserting drama into a story just for the sake of drama.

Your Turn

So…are you a fan of French cuisine? Have you mastered the art of French cooking? Have you read or seen Julie and Julia? Let us know in the comments! |RL

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