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Posted at 1:10 PM ET, 08/ 6/2009

Five Things to Know About ... 'Julie & Julia'

By Jen Chaney

Meryl Streep gets things cooking in "Julie & Julia." (Jonathan Wenk)

Thanks to the trailers and commercials, you've already seen portions of Meryl Streep's nearly dead-on portrayal of Julia Child in "Julie & Julia," opening in theaters tomorrow. You also may have guessed that Amy Adams gives every bit of everywoman cuteness she's got to the part of blogger/Child worshipper Julie Powell.

But what else do you need to know about this celebration of cooking, self-discovery, strong marriages and bucketloads of butter before heading to the cineplex? Here are five things to keep in mind:

1. Eat Before You Go ... Then Plan on a Snack Afterwards: This one is important. All those shots of simmering beef bourguignon, rich raspberry Bavarian cream and perfectly frosted chocolate cake (with shaved almonds sprinkled along the edges!) will make your stomach growl. And the way Streep, Adams, Stanley Tucci (who plays Child's husband, Paul), and Chris Messina (Powell's spouse, Eric) moan happily over every bite will only fuel your appetite. These are professional actors, people. They know how to pretend they're eating the most delicious dish ever, even if they're just chewing on air. So don't wait to eat dinner afterward, unless you want to have a breakdown midway through the movie and start chomping on the back of the stadium seat in front of you. (To make this one easier, check out our own Julia's find of eats inspired by the film, served at the Avalon's cafe.)

2. Don't Be Freaked Out By the Adams/Ryan Effect: At some point during the movie, you will find yourself thinking: "Hey, this is a Nora Ephron film. If she had made this 15 years ago, Adams's part would have been played by Meg Ryan." Do not be alarmed. You are not alone.

3. Don't Feel Guilty If You Think Streep Needs to Occasionally Dial It Down a Notch: We all know that Meryl Streep is an acting master, the holder of 15 Academy Award nominations, essentially a cinematic goddess. You can still adore her -- and even adore much of her performance in "Julie & Julia" -- but still think that her joie de vivre could sometimes stand a little less joie. It's okay. Your mother-in-law -- the one with a Streep shrine in the spare bedroom -- will still love you. And you'll still be able to appreciate the movie.

4. Leave Your Cynicism at the Door: Don't go into "Julie & Julia" with an anti-chick flick chip on your shoulder. Because, yes, this is an unabashedly female film, but one with more intelligence than most. Accept the fact that there will be more than one weepy scene, a lot of discussion about feelings and multiple comedic kitchen mishap moments. Make peace with that and you'll find it much easier to embrace the happy sweetness of it all. (P.S. Count your blessings. You could be sitting through "The Proposal" or "The Ugly Truth" instead of this.)

5. Give Ephron Her Props: No matter how you feel about "Julie & Julia," you will undoubtedly like it more than her last directorial effort: 2005's painful "Bewitched." If that's the case, write a reader review afterward that says so. Or head over to "24-Hour Movie People" and tell me and Ann Hornaday about your favorite cooking movies. Then, when you're done, do yourself a favor and hunt down a heaping, juicy bowl of beef bourguignon.

-- Jen

By Jen Chaney  | August 6, 2009; 1:10 PM ET
Categories:  Movies  
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