DVD Picks & Passes 12.13.2009

Five words: Meryl Streep as Julia Child.

Nope, five words doesn’t do justice to Nora Ephron’s charming Julie & Julia, now on DVD.

Julie & Julia is based on two autobiographical accounts: Julia Child’s My Life in France and Julie Powell’s Julie & Julia, recounting Powell’s attempt to blog her experiences cooking her way through all 536 recipes in Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year.

It’s a foodie comfort film, a sweet depiction of two loving marriages, a salute to a bygone era and a dispatch from the blogging age.

Streep is — so what else is new? — dazzling as a giddily over-the-top Child; Stanley Tucci is her understated equal as Child’s devoted husband, Paul.

No less essential is Amy Adams as the winsomely neurotic Julie, a post-9/11 call-center worker with writing aspirations whose cooking blog becomes a sensation, leading to a book deal … and this movie.

Julie’s strained relationship with her sharp-tongued mother, Julia’s struggles to be taken seriously in the male-dominated world of French cooking, Julie’s ordeal with boiling live lobsters — everyone will relate to something here. If there’s some adult content (see content advisory), for once it’s between happily married couples.

Also new on DVD, Walt Disney Pictures’ guinea-pig commando movie G-Force is a lame bit of live-action Disney as usual that only highlights how good Disney Animation’s Bolt was last year. If you haven’t caught up with Bolt on DVD, I recommend it instead of G-Force.

Both films are 3-D family action-comedies centered on elite, high-tech, computer-animated animal agents. In both films, the heroes are forced to go AWOL, team up with civilian animals, face humbling discoveries regarding their alleged high-tech specialness, and ultimately decide that what matters is the ones they love.

But Bolt has, among other things, actual characters and relationships that matter, a well-constructed story, and an ear for dialogue — and dialect, from New York to L.A.

G-Force, on the other hand, has broad stereotypes (the serious leader, the Latina siren, the hip-hop color character, etc.), a story that plays like mediocre James Bond on nitrous oxide, “hip” urban slang — and good old reliable potty humor.

Be warned: If your kids see G-Force, they may want the tie-in plush toys, equipped not only with commando gear, but sound chips, as well. Will the toys repeat lines from the movie like “Pimp my ride!” and “That was off the hizook!”? I don’t want to know — do you?

Bonus Picks: Julia Child: The Way to Cook, a two-disc 360-minute set. Also, “Star Trek: The Original Series, Season 3” now on Blu-ray. The complete Seasons 1–3 is also available.

Content advisory: Julie & Julia: A couple of fleeting, non-explicit bedroom scenes and some sex-related dialogue; a PG-13 f-bomb. Mature viewing. G-Force: Mild action and rude humor; a few depictions of mistreatment of pets. Nothing terribly inappropriate.

Cistercian Father Thomas Esposito says of discerning one’s college choice, ‘There has to be something that tugs at you and makes you want to investigate it further. And then the personal encounter comes in the form of a visit or a chat with a student or alumnus who communicates with the same enthusiasm or energy about the place. And then that love of a place can be a seed which germinates in your own heart through prayer.’

Choose a College With a Discerning Mind and Heart

Cistercian Father Thomas Esposito, assistant professor of theology at the University of Dallas (UD) and subprior (and former vocations director) of the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Dallas, drew from his experience as both a student and now monastic religious to help those discerning understand the parallels between religious and college discernment.