This is the weekend of boys-against-the-girls at the box office: On one side, Sylvester Stallone and “The Expendables”; on the other, Julia Roberts in “Eat Pray Love,” based on the Elizabeth Gilbert book beloved by so many women’s book clubs. (Not by mine; we haven’t read it. I read it myself, though, and wasn’t particularly taken with it. Then again, I tend to be not exactly a fan of memoirs written by people whose main achievement in life is having written a memoir. With only a few exceptions. But I’m digressing.) I’m seeing “Eat Pray Love” tonight, and am hoping it’s enjoyable.
And it’s making me think about Julia Roberts, who has a career that’s rather more interesting than her fellow romantic-comedy specialists. Though Roberts is best known for her mile-wide smile and her sunny presence, she’s also given an indication that she, for the most part, knows how to read scripts (far better than, say, Kate Hudson or — alas — Sandra Bullock, who have chosen a few too many turkeys). It took smarts to choose “Duplicity” last year, or “Charlie Wilson’s War” or “Ocean’s Eleven” or “Everyone Says I Love You” — or “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” the subversive (and delightful) 1997 rom-com that, at its heart, isn’t a rom-com at all. I’m attaching my favorite scene from the movie, which is absolutely stolen by Rupert Everett — but watch Roberts’ expressions here, as everyone gets caught up in the wonderfully goofy sing-along and she realizes that she’s dug a hole that’s going to be hard to climb out of. And she smiles, wanly, because she knows how silly it all is.
Let’s hope “Eat Pray Love” is more fun and enlightened than its poster, which shows Roberts looking sort of confused while eating gelato in Italy, which is nothing to be confused about. (I’ve eaten gelato in Italy, and I can tell you, I was smiling a Julia Roberts smile when I did so — that stuff is good.) In the meantime, what’s your favorite Julia Roberts movie? And do you, like me, always smile when you hear “Say a Little Prayer”?