Jami Attenberg: I have to preface this by saying I was 75% predisposed to like Eat, Pray, Love. I enjoyed the book version a great deal, I practice yoga and meditation and I love food porn in movies.
Jami: The other 25% was Julia Roberts.
Maura Johnston: Oh Julia.
Jami: She wearies me. She talks about her husband too much in interviews.
Maura: I like her, but I think 67% of my predisposition toward her is because of My Best Friend’s Wedding.
Jami: She never ever has any girlfriends in any of her movies. She doesn’t do well with women.
Jami: And yet she is America’s sweetheart.
Maura: She had some lady attachés in this film!
Jami: Well, she had her editor, who has to like her.
Maura: And then there was the Manic Pixie Dream Swede she met in Italy, who took time out to thank Liz FIRST at the Italian Thanksgiving table!
Jami: That is true, because Liz changed her life forever because she told her it was OK to eat.
Jami: This movie is all about people giving permission to other people.
Jami: To be an asshole, to be selfish, to love.
Maura: And to admit that their life is pretty OK, which, well, I have to be honest — that “wow HOW GREAT IS MY LIFE” attitude was so much of what predisposed me against EPL from the outset, I think. Or, rather, the unexamined greatness of Elizabeth Gilbert’s life. Yes, it had a fair amount of ennui, but it did not seem that bad in filmed form.
Maura: That book party in the opening scene!
Jami: I know that book parties like that exist, and that apartments like that exist, but I never actually see them. This is a how-the-other-half lives movie. Which is fine. But it feels not as relatable to me as the book did.
Maura: I have not read the book, I should point out here. Although I did see my sister reading it this weekend. She was enjoying it. It seems like a fairly speedy read.
Jami: I never recommend it to anyone because almost everyone I know has already read it. Most of my female friends started to hate Gilbert at some point in the book, but that was because they were jealous.
Jami: And they wanted to go on this trip. And not have to work for a year.
Maura: I mean… I’ll be honest. I would like all those things. And Javier Bardem, too.
Jami: You have to go to Bali to get yourself a Bardem.
Jami: I think she makes some really lovely and important though not very complex ideas palatable to a mass audience, and because she is a good writer, and writes about gender roles well, it was a successful book.
Jami: Also, I stood next to Elizabeth Gilbert once at a party and she really does glow and seem special.
Jami: When you lose the prose stylings, you are stuck with James Franco being hot but not particularly substantial.
Maura: And kind of vaguely out of it. Playing the role of “James Franco,” almost.
Maura: Some YouTube auteur should do a mashup of his “Eat Pray Love” scenes and his “General Hospital” bits.
Jami: I laughed inappropriately a lot at him.
Maura: Well, he was funny!
Next: just how funny was he?