Thursday, August 6, 2009

The loneliest critic

The movie still doesn't hit theaters tomorrow, but a number of critics have weighed in on "Julie & Julia," and I'm surprised by the varied reactions.

They're all over the place. Plenty of negative reviews, along with positive ones. I appear to occupy a very lonely spectrum: I called it one of the best films of the year. I stick to my opinion.

Roger Ebert gives the film a middling review, apparently put off by the Julia Child persona. Great for a 30-minute cooking show, but wears on you after a whole movie, he says. He also finds the Julie Powell character obsessive. She must be, to cook 524 recipes in a year. But there wouldn't be a movie without her.

My friend Roger Moore, critic at my hometown paper in Orlando, awards four out of five stars. Entertainment Weekly likes it but calls it "hardly a perfect souffle." The Associated Press and Variety both pan it.

Overall, the movie is scoring a respectable but unremarkable 64 percent "fresh" rating over at Rotten Tomatoes.

Hard for me to say why I loved this movie and others found it barely palatable. I've made no secret of the fact that I was looking forward to "Julie & Julia" more than any other film this summer. And so many of them have been major disappointments: "Wolverine," "Star Trek," "Terminator Salvation." "J&J" was the one movie for me that lived up to my own internal hype meter.

I'm not sure what's more uncomfortable: Being the lone voice who dislikes a movie that is universally admired, or one of a handful to defend a film that is reviled. The former hasn't happened to me very much; the latter only a couple of times. I joke that I was one of only two critics in America to give "Catwoman" a positive review. (Which I still stand by -- it's a fun, silly flick in which Halle Berry seems to be having a high old time. As Pauline Kael would say, it's trash, but glorious trash.)

On another note, now that some of the legitimate press is beginning to weigh in, the Tomatometer rating of "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" has fallen from 91 percent to 75 percent in the last 24 hours. I'm not sure how much lower it'll go, since not every critic bothers to do a follow-up review of a movie that was not screened for critics.

1 comment:

  1. I wouldn't say either of those are necessarily unconfortable. As an unabashed lover of "Speed Racer" (as you know) I can say there's a certain righteous indignation we get at staunchly defending or smashing a certain film.