Julia Roberts searches the world for inner fulfillment in 'Eat Pray Love' and she meets Javier Bardem along the way -- not a bad deal.

'Eat Pray Love' is the big-screen version of the bestselling memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert, in which the author ends an unfulfilled marriage and travels to Europe and and South Asia to sample cuisine and prayer to better balance her life. Critics feel Roberts is a spot on as Gilbert, filling the screen with her physical beauty and grace. The locales -- Italy, India and Bali -- are also gorgeously filmed by Ryan Murphy, the creator of TV's 'Glee,' they say.

They feel the story, however, is a little wanting. The Gilbert character is a bit too self-absorbed and removed from real life to make 'Eat Pray Love' a completely relatable movie. Julia Roberts searches the world for inner fulfillment in 'Eat Pray Love' and she meets Javier Bardem along the way -- not a bad deal.

'Eat Pray Love' is the big-screen version of the bestselling memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert, in which the author ends an unfulfilled marriage and travels to Europe and and South Asia to sample cuisine and prayer to better balance her life. Critics feel Roberts is a spot on as Gilbert, filling the screen with her physical beauty and grace. The locales -- Italy, India and Bali -- are also gorgeously filmed by Ryan Murphy, the creator of TV's 'Glee,' they say.

They feel the story, however, is a little wanting. The Gilbert character is a bit too self-absorbed and removed from real life to make 'Eat Pray Love' a completely relatable movie.

Richard Jenkins, Billy Crudup and James Franco co-star. Oh, here's a little trivia: 'Eat Pray Love' is not the first movie to be based on a Gilbert memoir. The 2000 barroom drama 'Coyote Ugly' was based on her 1997 GQ article.

Here's what the critics say about 'Eat Pray Love.'

They Hype

Associated Press: "Having Julia Roberts star as Liz Gilbert in the film version of the best-seller, in theory, only makes it more appealing to an even wider audience. Roberts is radiant as ever, and director and co-writer Ryan Murphy's adaptation allows her to show off her full range with plenty of hardcore hanky moments. Not unlike the production numbers in Murphy's juggernaut TV series 'Glee,' the search for meaning in 'Eat Pray Love' is played with complete earnestness. But even cynics viewing this movie (or the vast majority of men) would find it hard not to be impressed by the lush visuals and, on a more substantive level, moved by some of the performances.

Boston Globe: "This event is not one to see on an empty stomach, or even on a stomach full of dubious calories. A simple bowl of spaghetti that appears here makes a cardboard tray of nachos seem rather cruel. So does the sight of Roberts twirling her fork around the bowl. But it's a moment that satisfies several appetites: the hunger for a good meal, on the one hand; the hunger for a real personality on the other. It's hard to beat the ecstasy of seeing America's greatest working movie star blissfully -- not to mention, bravely -- shove that meal in her mouth."

St. Petersburg Times: "Yes, it was quite a year and it makes a movie that for all of its bumper sticker sentimentalizing feels more noble than those shopping spree 'Sex and the City' flicks. At the very least it's a terrific travelogue starring someone we'd follow to the ends of the Earth. 'Eat Pray Love' is like one of those rich dishes Liz consumes in Italy; robustly flavored and guiltily pleasurable."

They Snipe

Arizona Republic: "The general dippiness isn't helped by the dialogue: 'Every word in Italian is like a truffle!' Gilbert exclaims as she learns the language. Equally annoying is the gauzy lighting, which gives Roberts a sweetly angelic glow most of the time."

'Eat Pray Love' Trailer



Chicago Sun-Times: "In Italy, she eats such Pavarottian plates of pasta that I hope one of the things she prayed for in India was deliverance from the sin of gluttony. At one trattoria she apparently orders the entire menu, and I am not making this up. She meets a man played by James Franco, about whom, enough said. She shows moral fibre by leaving such a dreamboat for India, where her quest involves discipline in meditation, for which she allots three months rather than the recommended lifetime."

Entertainment Weekly: "If only Roberts' warmth, coupled with Javier Bardem's scruffy sexiness as Felipe, were enough to compensate for the folded-map flatness of this production. If only this glossy Eat Pray Love - an armchair journey for these staycation times - didn't amount to a whole lot of navel-gazing about problems that, absent the author's unique narrative language, don't nearly fill up the 133-minute space the movie version allots."

The Hollywood Reporter: "Reeling from a divorce and an affair that didn't do the trick either, Liz tells her best friend and publisher (Viola Davis, not given nearly enough to do) that she intends to chuck everything for a year to research herself in exotic foreign climes. Everyone including her ex (Billy Crudup) and new boy toy (James Franco) pull long faces, but this gal makes a career out of thinking of nobody but herself."

Orlando Sentinel: "This is 'Sex and the City' with Carrie shopping for spirituality. And it's damn near as insufferable as Gilbert's very popular book. But Roberts, who, like Carrie Bradshaw, narrates Liz's quest, makes most of the two hours and 15 minutes of eating, praying and loving pleasant enough. The Italian scenery dazzles, India impresses and Bali will make you swoon."

USA Today: "It's a thin story, on paper as well as on screen. A privileged woman ends her marriage for vague reasons and decides to get in touch with her true self. She ventures to Italy for the cuisine, goes to India to meditate and finds love in Indonesia. The whole quest feels a bit forced, though it's an appealing travelogue."

It's eh, so-so

Chicago Tribune: "The film is a fairly faithful transcription of events, even though Liz, as played by Roberts, carries a faint air of entitlement. I'm not sure this could be avoided on screen. What glides by on the page can provoke unwanted scrutiny when visualized. Liz learns to assess herself outside her usual New York life and materialism. How? By putting together an exotic travel package of unspecified cost and unlimited personal payoff."
CATEGORIES Reviews