A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this romantic drama based on the best-selling memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert examines what happens when a woman walks away from the life (and husband) she knows to travel the world in search of meaning, balance, and joy. That’s fairly heavy material for tweens, which is part of why this movie is more age-appropriate for teens and adults, who will be better able to appreciate the movie's life lessons. Expect some discussions about sex, celibacy, and relationships; a few glimpses of a naked male butt; and some swearing (including "s--t" and one "motherf---er") and drinking (including one scene in which a character gets quite drunk).
- Parents say
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What's the story?
Writer Elizabeth Gilbert (Julia Roberts) suddenly finds herself feeling trapped in a marriage she doesn't want, in a life she didn't envision. Despite the fact that she chose to fashion that very life, now she wants out -- and that realization will destroy her husband (Billy Crudup) and worry her friends. A love affair with a young actor (James Franco) isn't the answer, and neither is disappearing into her sorrows. So she decides to go to Italy, where she hopes to rediscover her passion for food, and, perhaps, life; to India, where she seeks spiritual connection; and to Bali, where she may finally forgive herself. It's there that she meets a Brazilian man (Javier Bardem) who just might convince her that love is worth the risk.
Is it any good?
All hail Julia Roberts: As Elizabeth Gilbert’s avatar in this cinematic adaptation of the bestselling memoir Eat Pray Love, she's luminous and beautiful. Her faint wrinkles assure us that she hasn't been Botoxed or plastic-surgeried to death, and she's every bit the likable America's sweetheart she's known to be. With her in the starring role, a supporting cast filled with the likes of Bardem, Franco, Crudup, Viola Davis, and Richard Jenkins, and an inspired-by-real-life story set against some of the most photogenic locales in the world, how can it go wrong?
On one level, it doesn't. The film is convincingly stirring, and it hits all of the emotional notes that movies like these are supposed to hit. It's dreamy, it makes you think, and it even makes you cry. But poetic and unforgettable it's not. Some moments have been fashioned with heavy hands; you can feel the filmmakers pushing you to Feel Something. The film skates over why Liz can't abide the life she leads and the wreckage she leaves behind. And it incites the same debate that the book itself did: Is this chronicling a so-called self-indulgent journey that only the affluent can embark upon? Is it superficial? Or is it transformative? And does that matter when the film is, yes, entertaining?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's messages. Who do you think it's trying to reach? What is it saying to that audience?
Liz finds her bliss through a complete change in scenery, literally and figuratively. How realistic is this option for most people? What do you think would have happened if she hadn't been able to escape?
What eventually persuades Liz to leave her husband? Is her struggle relatable? Believable?
- In theaters: August 13, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: November 23, 2010
- Cast: Billy Crudup, Javier Bardem, Julia Roberts
- Director: Ryan Murphy
- Studio: Columbia Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 133 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: brief strong language, some sexual references and male rear nudity
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