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Now in our eleventh calendar year!
PCR #542 (Vol. 11, No. 33). This edition is for the week of August 9--15, 2010.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Eat Pray Love"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

theater seats

"Eat Pray Love"  by Mike Smith
DVD Reviews: Roger Corman’s Cult Classics  by ED Tucker
Summer Memories: Storytown USA  by Chris Woods
Zeiram  by Jason Fetters
#1 .... Give Til It Hurts (the Bottom Line) .... .... .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf  by Mike Smith

Columbia Pictures     
Starring: Julia Roberts, Billy Crudup and Javier Bardem
Directed by: Ryan Murphy
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 2 hours 13 minutes

“Paradise Alley.” “Rocky III.” “Staying Alive.” “Cobra.” These films have two things in common. One, of course, is that they all involve Sylvester Stallone as either an actor, writer or director, with multiple combinations of all three. Two, they all run under an hour and forty five minutes. Heck, “Cobra” doesn’t even hit an hour and a half. There was a method behind this madness. Stallone figured that if he kept a movie short it would allow movie theatres to schedule an extra show each day. Smart man. If only the makers of “Eat Pray Love” shared Slys wisdom.

Liz (Roberts) has what seems to be the perfect life. She’s married to a great guy (Crudup), travels all over the world for her job and is hoping to have a baby soon. The film opens with her in Bali, where she meets a medicine man (Hadi Subiyanto) who informs her that she will have two marriages (one long, one short), lose all of her money (then get it back) and will one day return to Bali to visit him. Skeptical Liz then heads back to New York City, where she promptly leaves her husband, hooks up with a sensitive actor (the always great James Franco) and decides to take a year off and see the world (which is ironic since her job IS to see the world). First stop: Italy. Home of pizza and pasta and designer clothing. The “EAT” portion of our journey is a cinch. However, “PRAY” and “LOVE” are going to be a little more challenging.

Based on the very popular novel by Elizabeth Gilbert, “Eat Pray Love” is a very faithful adaptation. It’s also a long one. I don’t know when filmmakers decided that more is better, but with the exception of “Gone With The Wind,” “The Godfather” films and a handful more, it isn’t. Liz’s year long journey seems to take that long to unfold on screen. The pace picks up some once Liz hits an ashram in India and runs into Richard (Richard Jenkins), a man from Texas looking for forgiveness. Richard becomes Liz’s own Jimminy Cricket, telling her what changes she needs to make and accept to find the enlightenment she so badly wants. Next comes Bali, where she reunites with the medicine man. Will she find love? The movie isn’t called “Eat Pray Lonely.”

Now for the positive stuff. The film is very well acted. Roberts has taken a role that could have been played very stereotypically (lonely divorcee’ searches for love and the secret of life) and breathes life into it. Her Liz is confident when she shouldn’t be and that confidence is what carries her through the many doubts that encompass her journey. In what are really extended cameo roles, Crudup, Franco, Jenkins and Bardem help give the film its drive. The attraction Liz feels towards these men is much more than physical (and I should say here that Jenkins character is not a romantic interest for Liz but more of a mentor) and it would be easy to dismiss their characters if there wasn’t something behind the faces. And a quick note to ladies everywhere who may decide to travel to Bali after seeing the film: most of the men there look more like the wizened old medicine man that Javier Bardem!

Director Murphy’s work is strong and fluid, much like his work on “Glee,” the popular television show he co-created. Murphy frames his scenes around his actors, making them a part of the visual tale he is telling. An excellent musical soundtrack, featuring everything from Neil Young to the theme from “Last Tango In Paris,” helps move the film along as well. Now if they can only do something about that running time.

On a scale of zero to four stars I give “Eat Pray Love”  

To comment on this or any other PCR article, please visit The Message Board. This week's movie review of "Eat Pray Love" is ©2010 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2010, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.