By Jonathan Decker (Family therapist, film critic)
WHAT'S EAT PRAY LOVE ABOUT?
A woman seeks to find herself through a year of traveling, meditation, and dining. Based on the novel of the same name.
IS IT ANY GOOD? (GRADE: C-)
Before Facebook, you may recall, one might sit through literal slide-shows (projected onto a sheet, for example) in order to experience a friend's vacation. This film feels like sitting through such an evening, if your friend were self-indulgent and a bit narcissistic, kept bringing up her broken marriage and her justifications for a fling during the slideshow, gabbed on and on about the wonderful people she met as if you knew them, and took way too long to show her admittedly scenic slides.
As someone who enjoys glimpses into world cultures/religions, good actors, and romance in general, I'll admit that there were a few moments that charmed, enlightened, and moved me. But this sluggishly-paced movie feels a good 45 minutes longer than its 2 hour and 15 minute running time. This is to say nothing of its repetitive narrative structure, general predictability, and disturbing core message: You can find peace through avoidance of accountability and by literally coming to see yourself as your own god. It's all about “love yourself” and “forgive yourself,” which is fine, but the protagonist takes no responsibility for what she does to hurt other people early on. Julia Roberts is likable, but her character here mostly is not. This is not a film I'd revisit.
IS IT OKAY FOR YOUR KIDS?
Eat Pray Love is rated PG-13. It has a fair amount of foul language (including one use of the phrase “mother——,” which I thought was only allowed in R-rated films), sexual innuendo, male rear nudity, and implications of adultery and other sex outside of marriage.
ANY WORTHWHILE MESSAGES?
It is not enough to life for self-fulfillment; one must live to benefit others. Take time to enjoy and savor life.
If you're looking for a better “woman finds herself and her independence” movie, I recommend Thoroughly Modern Millie!
Jonathan Decker is the clinical director of Your Family Expert. He is a licensed marriage and family therapist, husband, and father of five. Jonathan earned a masters degree in family therapy from Auburn University as well as a bachelor's degree in clinical psychology from Brigham Young University. He is an actor, author, and television personality.