Who's In It: Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem, Billy Crudup, Viola Davis, James Franco, Richard Jenkins
The Basics: I'm not sure where Julia's character--who really did all this stuff in her actual life so it's not like this is a Sex and the City daydream where cash just magically appears in your wallet thanks to your awesome job as a freelance journalist--got the year's worth of f.u. money to stop working and traipse around the globe seeking a cure for her spiritual malaise and deep depression, but if you've got it like that then by all means, hop on the next plane for Italy and eat your weight in pasta. Who wouldn't do that? Just make sure you bring your gratitude journal with you or Oprah will come knock on your door and repossess the soul you mortgaged to her.
What's The Deal: Here are my actual notes during a couple chunks of this movie:
Me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me... (DEEP BREATH) me me me me me me me me me me me me me. And then later: YAP YAP YAP YAP YAP YAP YAP YAP YAP YAP YAP YAP YAP YAP YAP. So you should know that it's 1,000% that kind of movie. And if you're okay with that then go spend the nearly 150 minutes it's going to take to watch it. Director Ryan Murphy couldn't care less about delving into anyone's pain too deeply, so when it wants you to cry you probably won't. But hanging out with Julia Roberts being all glowy and charming--even when she's somewhat sad about whatever it is she's sad about--is still kind of pleasurable.
Best Scene:When she eats a bunch of pizza and lays down what is really the only true wisdom in the whole film. I won't spoil it here. I'd also like to praise her for not doing the thing I hate most while watching people of either gender eat in a movie, something I call Actress Bites. It's that fake eating and tiny nibbling that is so distracting that it becomes the only thing you pay attention to. And just as a side note, all the shots of food in this movie are the kind that will give you chills of pleasure and immediate stomachy greed. Do not go see this thing while hungry.
Dumbest Moment: This elephant walks right up to her and lets her pet it. Here's where the movie would like you to feel something major, like she's really having enlightenment vibrations because, you know, Wow An Elephant. And again, to JR's credit, she knows how to make all the right faces in all the right places. But unless that elephant flaps its ears and flies off with her navigating its snout, I'm not really getting the mystical import of the moment.
The Character You'll Feel The Most Real Empathy For/The Least Anything For/The Most Annoyance With: Billy Crudup as her heartbroken husband/Javier Bardem as the perfect new guy who does nothing but look scruffy and hangdoggish/Richard Jenkins as the irritating spiritual seeker she meets in India who can't stop saying "follow your bliss"-type nonsense.