CATEGORIES Film Fancy


The latest Julia Roberts chick flick, 'Eat, Pray, Love,' opens on Friday. It's her second female-focused film of the year, following a seven-year Julia chick flick drought. (Her last real date movie was 2003's 'Mona Lisa Smile.') This year's 'Valentine's Day' did OK, but it was an ensemble cast – Ms. Roberts wasn't carrying it. Which begs the question – does Julia still "have it" when it comes to getting women to flock together in gaggles to see her latest movies?

She's undeniably a huge star, but she's certainly not the same lovable girl-next-door she was when she entered the Hollywood scene. She has a brash, arrogant edge that just might rub people the wrong way. Some may say that losing the nice-girl vibe is a product of time and age, but Sandra Bullock has managed to retain that sweet "it" quality after all these years. It's almost as though motherhood has hardened Julia. Instead of making us laugh at a hooker with a heart of gold, she's screaming at paparazzi and being obnoxious on Letterman.

The latest Julia Roberts chick flick, 'Eat, Pray, Love,' opens on Friday. It's her second female-focused film of the year, following a seven-year Julia chick flick drought. (Her last real date movie was 2003's 'Mona Lisa Smile.') This year's 'Valentine's Day' did OK, but it was an ensemble cast – Ms. Roberts wasn't carrying it. Which begs the question – does Julia still "have it" when it comes to getting women to flock together in gaggles to see her latest movies?

She's undeniably a huge star, but she's certainly not the same lovable girl-next-door she was when she entered the Hollywood scene. She has a brash, arrogant edge that just might rub people the wrong way. Some may say that losing the nice-girl vibe is a product of time and age, but Sandra Bullock has managed to retain that sweet "it" quality after all these years. It's almost as though motherhood has hardened Julia. Instead of making us laugh at a hooker with a heart of gold, she's screaming at paparazzi and being obnoxious on Letterman.

I used to be a huge Julia fan, back in the 'Pretty Woman' and 'Sleeping with the Enemy' days. But then something started to shift. I can't quite put my finger on it, but something changed. What happened?! Suddenly that big grin became less endearing and more judge-y, smug and grating. I suppose most huge stars go through some sort of transformation when they become larger-than-life. Just look at Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson and Nicole Kidman. Katherine Heigl could make an interesting case study, since her holier-than-thou big star makeover happened far more rapidly than most.



But I digress. I may be in the minority here, but I miss the sweet, charming '90s Julia. I found her ridiculous in 'Charlie Wilson's War,' obnoxious in 'Duplicity' and just plain annoying in 'Ocean's Eleven.' She came off as unfocused, like she was just phoning in her performances and coasting on her superstar status. So here's hoping 'Eat, Pray, Love' gives us a glimpse of the everywoman Julia we fell in love with back in the day.

As part of this very unofficial Julia analysis/ retrospective, here's a list of her top five most likable roles:

1. Vivian Ward in 'Pretty Woman.' Obviously. Julia just nailed the sweet and spunky girl-next-door. She was fun, relatable and you couldn't help but root for her. I mean, c'mon, that part where she goes into the luxury store and is told to leave? And then she comes back in later on and gives the saleswoman some sass? That's the Julia we love.

2. Daisy Arujo in 'Mystic Pizza.' She's the screw-up of the two sisters who appears to be wasting her life! But isn't that something we can all identify with at some point? Julia really captured this "confused young woman" character. She was looking for something, she just didn't know what.

3. Laura Burney in 'Sleeping with the Enemy.' Why won't that bad man just leave that sweet girl alone? Patrick Bergin (why did I think this was Jason Patric?) kills as the abusive psychopathic husband, and Julia is equally good as the not-so-helpless-after-all heroine.

4. Grace King Bichon in 'Something to Talk About.' Julia wins our sympathy as the scorned woman. Don't you just want to kill Dennis Quaid for her? While we're talking about 'Something to Talk About,' I don't understand why Kyra Sedgwick hasn't played Julia's sister more often. They're practically twins!

5. Shelby Eatenton Latcherie in 'Steel Magnolias.' Julia really jerks our tears as the sweet young southern belle with health problems. She's charming, vulnerable and not smug at all. More importantly, she holds her own against the mighty Dolly Parton. Sweet, lovable Dolly!

Do you love or hate Julia, or are you somewhere in between?