"Eat Pray Love" Movie Review/New to DVD and Blu-ray disc

8/20/2010 Posted by Admin

"Eat Pray Love"

Movie Review

Directed by Ryan Murphy, written by Murphy and Jennifer Salt, 133 minutes, rated PG-13.

By Christopher Smith

Currently, the majority of film critics would like to eat the new Ryan Murphy movie, "Eat Pray Love," and then leave it behind in some soiled restroom the following day. Not pleasant, but what they're saying about the movie isn’t pleasant, either.
Mostly, they're railing against the film’s premise. Though we're in the middle of a recession, here is a movie that dares to be about a successful woman who ditches her marriage in an effort to find meaning in her life by taking a year off and traveling to different parts of the world.

In this economy, that's kind of a joke for most of us, so I see their point. But then you have the movie itself, which does offer insight into what Americans view as having lived a full life, and how other cultures view the same subject.

Though many movies have explored Eastern culture and juxtaposed it against the American experience, there still is something to learn from "Eat Pray Love," especially because it repeatedly challenges our culture and questions what’s important in life.

Murphy and Jennifer Salt based their script on Elizabeth Gilbert's Oprah-fueled best-selling memoir, and what they created is a travelogue of despair and enlightenment. This is slick entertainment with just enough depth to make it engaging.

In its most streamlined form, the movie explores what happens when one woman comes undone by her own mistakes, and then gets it together again when she leaves her husband (Billy Crudup), dumps her boyfriend (James Franco), and goes on a spiritual journey that involves pizza, Italy, ice cream, India, prayer, a hot man (Javier Bardem), Bali and meditation. Lots of meditation.

The woman in question is Liz Gilbert, a successful writer played so appealingly by Julia Roberts that she helps you to overlook how manufactured the film is.

With its wheels greased, the movie zips from point A to point B without a shred of surprise. Still, tucked within the predictability are excellent performances, a message that matters, and in the end, perhaps a few reasons to reflect on what matters in your own life. Add to this some gorgeous vistas and the commercialized dream of finding that magical box of Calgon to take you away, and you have an entertaining movie that balances fantasy with something meaningful and real.

Beyond the festive globetrotting, this is a movie lifted by its terrific supporting performances, including Richard Jenkins as a troubled man seeking inner peace and depth in New Delhi. When he spars with Liz, those moments are alive with mounting frustration and eventually friendship.

In Italy, Giuseppe Gandini, Andrea Di Stefano, Tuva Novotny and Luca Argento all leave behind memorable characters. But it's Hadi Subiyanto's tricky performance as a toothless Bali psychic that's most satisfying. While there's no denying that this endearing elderly gentleman comes off as a human Yoda, there's also no question that Subiyanto has real comic timing and an easy chemistry with Roberts. His scenes with the actress range from funny to touching, but not cloying.

Finally, Roberts should be commended for toning down her bag of tricks. She gives an honest performance, mostly letting go of everything audiences have come to expect from her--her impossibly wide smile, that barking laugh of hers, the tough edge she's embraced in later films--in favor of conveying the highs and lows of Gilbert's personal journey. This could have just been another slight Julia Roberts movie, but the actress obviously took a cue from the book's themes and was shrewd enough to dig deep, find her center and offer something reasonably rich and satisfying.

Grade: B

On DVD and Blu-ray disc


"The Simpsons: The Complete Thirteenth Season" is just out one DVD and Blu-ray disc, and as usual, it features plenty of tongue planted firmly in cheek. Thirteen seasons out, this enduring series continues to give audiences exactly what they want--Homer making a fool of himself, Bart up to no good, Marge overwhelmed, Lisa taking matters into her own hands, Maggie coolly stealing her share of scenes. This isn't the series at its best, though the laughs do flow in the set’s best episodes--“Brawl in the Family," "Half-Decent Proposal" and the very funny "The Frying Game.” Given the crudeness of the animation, its appearance on Blu-ray is a curiosity, but yes, the picture is cleaner, the audio brighter, just as you’d expect it to be.

Also recommended this week is the convoluted but entertaining final season of "Lost," the complete series of the quirky television show "Flight of the Conchords," the first season of “Cougar Town,” the fourth and final season of “Ugly Betty,” the seventh season of “One Tree Hill,” as well as several titles from A&E, including the second season of "Pawn Stars," the fifth season of "Gangland," the third season of "Ax Men," and the beautifully photographed "The Universe: Our Solar System," which debuts on Blu-ray.


The ninth season of "Hawaii Five-O" is just out, and let's just say that the show's decline is apparent. What initially was an engrossing series now struggles to compel and to entertain. There is little in this ninth season that isn’t rimmed with fatigue, and certainly nothing that's as energetic as Morton Stevens' iconic theme song. Worse, Paramount did a lousy job with the transfer, which is so oversaturated, you'd look away from your television if the weak writing already hadn’t compelled you to turn it off.

Joining it soon in the bargain bin is the final season of "Sabrina the Teenage Witch"; the bum fifth season of "Matlock," which joins "Hawaii Five-O" in that its formula has worn out its welcome; and the final season of "Numbers," a dumb FBI thriller whose number couldn't have come up soon enough. Those seeking something trite should rush to the second season of "90210," which has to go on record as one of the more useless series offered by a network. On the fence is the seventh season of "NCIS," which has its moments, just not enough of them to be worth its steep price.

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