Eat Pray Love (2010)

Rated: PG-13 on appeal for brief strong language, some sexual references and male rear nudity.
Length: 133 minutes
Grade: DCDB=C
Budget: $60 million
Box Office: $215 million (81 U.S., 121 Intl., 13 DVD)

Written and Directed by: Ryan Murphy (Running with Scissors and TV like Glee, Nip/Tuck, and Popular), based on the book by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Starring: Julia Roberts.
With: Billy Crudup, James Franco, Richard Jenkins, and Javier Bardem.

A journalist goes through a midlife crisis when she realizes that the life she’s chosen for herself doesn’t even seem to have her in it. She divorces her husband and goes on a bodily, spiritual, relational journey to Italy, India, and Bali.

Entertainment Value: D
This was soooo disappointing. And the weird thing is that I wanted to like it and even found in going back over the sound clips that there’s actually quite a lot of interesting material in the movie. For starters, it’s way overwritten and feels terribly fake and contrived as a result. But more than this, it’s just tragically boring, inspite of having so many interesting scenes and insights. She is told by her Balinese mentor to smile with her liver (or kidney, I can’t remember which), but the movie itself doesn’t have much smile to it at all. And no, contrary to what you might anticipate, it wasn’t the silly Eastern religious stuff that threw me off the scent on this one. I actually thought it had one of the most touching moments when she first prayed to God.

Superficial Content: C
Drugs/Alcohol C+, Sex/Nudity C, Violence A-, Language C
PG-13 is right. The stuff that might bother you is language, which is never awful, but sort of regularly medium bad. There are several sexual scenes, mostly implied, and only some rear male nudity. There’s a fair amount of alcohol, including some drunkenness. There’s one conversation about something awful almost happening.

Significant Content: D
This is a hard one to grade because, as I hinted at above, although there are plenty of interesting things to comment or ponder, the overall message of the movie is profoundly dumb. Here’s the short version. When you’re immature, don’t make romance your idol or else you’ll be sucked in and annihilated by it. But the goal is to accomplish personal culinary, emotional, spiritual, and relational maturity so that you can go back to romance as an idol and it will finally satisfy you. Another way to say it: having a variety of ways of having happiness means that you’re pleasure portfolio is diversified enough to handle the risk of adding romance to your life.

Artistic/Thought Value: B
There’s actually quite a bit to talk about here, and I think the best way to do that is to give the main ideas of the movie in the discussion questions.

Discussion Questions:
~For each of the following messages from this movie, discuss whether you think they are correct or not and how they might apply to your life:
~~~All suffering is relational suffering. We can endure anything else, but relationships have a special way of devastating us.
~~~Romantic relationships are very much like any addictive drug, especially when we are seeking our identity and approval from someone else.
~~~Sometimes, for love, you have to lose your balance in life in order to preserve it.
~~~If you set out to find joy in life, learn to treat everything that happens as part of the universe’s effort to give it to you.
~~~God dwells in you, as you, not as some fantasy ideal of human behavior.
~~~Ruin is the road to transformation.
~~~Having a child is like getting a face tattoo: you kind of want to be committed.

~Given the realities of most people’s lives, does the adventure shown in this movie seem plausible for others who might be experiencing alienation or angst?
~If Liz had been who she was at the end of this movie back in the beginning, could her marriage have worked? Why couldn’t she go on this journey with him instead of leaving him?
~How might your view of this movie have been different if Liz had pursued a Christian religious experience rather than the ones she does? What advice would you give her as a Christian? Do we have to become solid, mature people before we can safely fall in love with Jesus?

Poignant or memorable scenes:
~The opening story about the Cambodian refugees needing relationship advice.
~Muffin top pizza
~Praying to God about her marriage.
~Richard Jenkins telling her his own story. How does your view of him shift after this scene?

Overall Grade: C
A mostly disappointing (and very long) Oprah’s book club effort to show women how to have meaning in their lives again through food, spirituality, and romance.

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