Just in case anyone ever accuses me of not having enough variety in my diet. Now, on with the reviews:
Julie & Julia
Imagine you’re a guy, and a vegetarian to boot. And someone told you that there’s this movie, about two hours long, featuring two women (and a couple of men by way of supporting cast) cooking for most of its running length. That there’s no plot to speak of really, and no major emotional upheavals. And that the climactic moment involves cutting open a duck and stuffing food in it. How likely is it that you’d drop everything to go watch this movie?
Let me sweeten the deal for you a bit. It stars Meryl Streep, who manages to keep her lead over Kate Winslet in the Oscar nominations race by the simple expedient of doing something brilliant enough to get nominated every year. It also stars Amy Adams, who seems to be closing in on Ms Winslet froom the other end. On top of which, it has Stanley Tucci, who is constitutionally incapable of disappointing.
Still, it’s a lot of cooking and very little plot to cram into two hours. Most people would give it a miss. Most did, if the box office receipts are any indication. I didn’t. And for reasons I don’t fully understand, I found myself engrossed in this simple tale of two women — one who blazed a trail by introducing French cuisine to servant-less Americans in the 1950s, and another who followed it half a century later by cooking her way through the former’s cookbook in a year.
Since I saw it on Sunday evening, I have been trying to figure out why I enjoyed this little movie so much. All I can come up with is this: the movie correctly identifies the secret to good food. It’s butter. Lots of it. Bon appetit!
All the Best
All the Best takes the zany plot of Kaadhala Kaadhala (or Right Bed Wrong Husband, depending on who the makers want to give credit to), adds a bit, subtracts a bit and eventually comes up with a comedy with roughly the same hit rate. Much of it is due to the fact that the plot is madcap enough to cover a number of flaws.
The leads aren’t really in top form: Ajay Devgan (if he wants to stick that extra vowel where the sun don’t shine, that’s his business — I’m keeping it where it is) is just about okay, and needs to progress beyond the silly smile at some point if he wants to become a good comedian. Fardeen Khan seems, inexplicably enough, to survive in comedies despite the fact that he has the comic timing and voice modulation of the average dead bacterium. Bipasha Basu shows less cleavage than Ajay, but looks gorgeous nonetheless. Mughda Godse takes all the brownie points she earned for Fashion and blows them up here — if there is anything worse than how her role is written, it is how she plays it. Sanjay Butt looks like he ate a whole shark on the sets of Blue and hasn’t crapped it out yet.
But making up for all of this is a comedian who I confess I have never been a huge fan of: Johnny Lever. Playing a mute loan shark named Tobu, he brings the house down every time he appears on screen. How he communicates through his sidekicks is funny enough. But how one of them has trouble with “translating” what he “says” after having sustained an ear injury — that bit is almost Pythonesque in its mix of logic and wierdness. If the rest of the movie had managed to live up to that standard, I’d have been grabbing random strangers on the road and buying them tickets to this movie. As it stands, I can only suggest that you go watch it for Johnny Lever and forgive the rest.
ps: If you do watch it, look out for the reference to Slumdog Millionaire — it’s priceless!