ZERO STARS/**** Image B Sound B+ Extras D
starring Julia Roberts, James Franco, Richard Jenkins, Javier Bardem
screenplay by Ryan Murphy & Jennifer Salt, based on the book by Elizabeth Gilbert
directed by Ryan Murphy
by Walter Chaw It's a little tempting to not take the piss out of this latest instalment of How Julia Got Her Tube Packed, but the sins of Ryan Murphy's unwatchable Eat Pray Love are such that it's nigh impossible for any sentient human to resist. More interesting might be to chart the route America's sweetheart has taken to becoming one of the most irritating and hateful personas in the modern pantheon--how the once top-earning female star is lately this pinched, drawn, graceless thing trying her best and in vain to recapture the sociopathic sprightliness of her early successes. It could simply be the natural process of aging that makes it harder for her wronged-woman act to cull any sympathy: a 43-year-old woman making pouty lips and acting out is a much different animal than her 23-year-old self doing same. If she were to poison her husband or steal her best friend's bridegroom now, it would play very differently. And play differently it does as she dumps her non-descript/non-character hubby (Billy Crudup, typecast), buys an Italian phrasebook ("Every word in Italian is like a truffle!" the moron says), and travels to Bali in search of wisdom at the feet of adorably helpful minorities who only exist in movies like this to help coddled, rich, white people be content with their unimaginable privilege. If On the Waterfront was Kazan's apologia for singing like a canary, then Julia's late career seems an apologia for buying someone else's husband and getting away with it, for the most part, in the court of public opinion.