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Julia Roberts' travelogue is unsatisfying

Eat Pray Love: Rates a D+.
Courtesy photo

This is probably the biggest opening weekend of movies all summer. You’ve got the action/adventure -- The Expendables. You have the teen comic book, video game, mish-mash Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. And, you have the biggest chick flick of the summer – Eat Pray Love.

Not to be confused with Eat Drink Man Woman (what is it with movie titles that start with “eat” not forming complete sentences?)

You know what’s strange about this movie for me? One of my biggest complaints is that movies don’t seem realistic. Well, this one does.

When Julia Roberts is in Italy and having a guy teach her Italian, or is engrossed in delicious food with her new friends, it all seems real; and kind of uninteresting. None of them say anything you really care about.

The movie started with Roberts talking to her BFF (played by Viola Davis, who was so great in Doubt). Yes, it’s that movie BFF, which means it’s a BBFF (black best friend forever). Their conversations about having a baby are mildly interesting.

I loved the flashbacks of Roberts' marriage, and even the way she deals with her divorce. The fact that her husband doesn’t want the marriage to end is clever and interesting.

But when she heads out to Italy, this becomes a travelogue that is supposedly true (although it conveniently leaves out her cheating on her husband, doing drugs, and gaining 25 pounds – heaven forbid Roberts would gain weight for a role).

The close-ups of the food in Italy or the nicely photographed city doesn’t make up for an uninteresting script.

The trip to India seems very forced. She’s doing this for a current boyfriend (James Franco, in one of the few movies I haven’t liked him in) more than for herself.

That gives her the chance to meet the very talented Richard Jenkins (The Visitor) in one of the few films I haven’t enjoyed him in.

He’s a little too rude to Roberts for me to ever really warm up to him, and his revelation to her – although powerful – doesn’t make it enough.

The third place Roberts visits is Bali (for the love portion of the film). This is where she meets Javier Bardem, who reminds me a lot of Gerard Depardieu. I was in college when he became this sex symbol, and I just couldn’t figure it out. He was fat and oafy, with a huge nose (if this is what women find attractive, my number’s in the book, ladies).

Now, Bardem isn’t fat. And he doesn’t have that goofy haircut he had in No Country For Old Men – but why has he become a sex symbol? I can’t see it. I didn’t buy it when he got two best friends to sleep with him in Vicky Christina Barcelona (hey…that almost sounds like this title) and I have a hard time buying it in this.

And, we have a poorly written screenplay. That would include Bardem trying to impress Roberts at a bar, by telling her he’d make her the best mix-tape because he adds a lot of Phil Collins and Air Supply.

Oh, isn’t that cute!? He’s a big lug with sleepy eyes, that doesn’t know enough to keep hidden his love of Air Supply.

It’s a shame that a movie that starts so promising can become so disappointing. I still had hope an hour into it, after Roberts left her goofy young fling and met up with her eating partner in Italy. They talked about the weight they’ve gained and decide instead of counting calories, a trip to buy new pants was the answer.

Instead of a lame scene like we had with Pretty Woman playing as they tried on outfits, we have them laying on the floor trying to snap buttons and zip up pants, while Thank You For Letting Me By Myself Again plays. Nice.

There’s a scene near the end of the movie where Roberts has her eyes closed and Bardem is bringing her to a boat at the beach. That final 10 or 15 minutes might make you gag a few times, but I’m sure Oprah’s book club will eat it all up.

And speaking of eating…I felt this meal just wasn’t satisfying. It’s a little like lunch at Denny’s. The pictures on the menu look enticing. And as you’re eating the food you don’t think it’s horrible; but it’s nothing to write home about or recommend to friends. Ultimately, it leaves you unsatisfied.

I’m giving this movie a D+.