Australian Council on Children and the Media

Julie and Julia

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Lacks interest and not recommended under 8, PG to 13 (Disturbing scenes, sexual references and coarse language)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Julie and Julia
  • a review of Julie and Julia completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 8 October 2009.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not recommended due to lack of interest and disturbing scenes
Children 8 -13 Parental guidance recommended due to disturbing scenes, sexual references and coarse language
Children 14 and over OK for this group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Julie and Julia
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Infrequent coarse language
Length 123 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Julie and Julia is based on two true stories, that of Julia Child, of recipe book and TV cooking fame and that of author Julie Powell who gains fame by recording her exploration of Julia’s recipes in a blog.

The film opens with Julia Child (Meryl Streep) and her husband Paul (Stanley Tucci) arriving in France and setting up house in 1949; Paul is an American diplomat who has been assigned to Paris for the next four years. The film then jumps to the year 2002 where Julie Powell (Amy Adams) and her husband Eric (Chris Messina) have just moved to a new apartment above a pizza shop in Queens. Julia works in a small office cubicle answering distraught calls from disgruntled insurance claimants. The film jumps back and forth between telling Julia Childs’s story, which unfolds over a ten year period during the late forties and fifties and Julia Powell’s story which spans a single year (2002).

After settling down in Paris, Julia Child becomes restless with her life and eventually decides to take on cooking, enrolling in the male dominated Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. During her studies, Julia meets two French women in the midst of writing an American/French cook book and, when the book is rejected by their publisher as being “not English enough”, Julia takes over the project and spends the next eight years of her life rewriting the book.

Like Julia Child, Julie Powell decides that she needs meaning and fulfilment in her life and, with the help of her husband Eric, starts a blog in which for a one year period she will record her journey cooking her way through Julia Child’s cook book, including all 524 recipes. The film follows Julie’s ups and downs over the one year period.     

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

The McCarthy era in the USA

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

While the film Julie and Julia contains no physical violence it does contain some scenes depicting individual emotional outbursts, a low-level domestic dispute, references made to death and the terrorist attack of 9/11, and one comedy scene depicting copious amounts of gushing blood. Examples include:

  • Over the phone we hear a woman talk about her son dying in the “second tower”, and another woman talking about her partner having fibreglass in his lungs. During a heated argument involving some mild name calling between Julie and Eric, Eric slams his hand against a closed door before he storms out.
  • Julia’s husband is verbally interrogated (during the McCarthy years) in an intimidating manner by two men who ask him questions relating to his patriotism and whether he is homosexual.  

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of eight, including the following:

  • In a TV comedy sketch (Saturday Night Live) we see a man dressed as Julia Child presenting a cooking show. He cuts his finger and blood spurts out, covering the front of the presenter and the kitchen bench while he pretends it is not serious.
  • Julie reluctantly puts several live lobsters into a pot of boiling water and several seconds later is startled by the lid popping off.
  • Julia Child stabs a large kitchen knife into a lobster and cuts it in two.
  • One scene depicts an open market with images of animal parts on display such as a pig’s snout. In one scene we see Julie holding part of a calf’s leg while she describes how to render it down. 

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • In a TV comedy sketch (Saturday Night Live) we see a man dressed as Julia Child presenting a cooking show. He cuts his finger and blood spurts out, covering the front of the presenter and the kitchen bench while he pretends it is not serious.
  • Julie reluctantly puts several live lobsters into a pot of boiling water and several seconds later is startled by the lid popping off.
  • Julia Child stabs a large kitchen knife into a lobster and cuts it in two.
  • One scene depicts an open market with images of animal parts on display such as a pig’s snout. In one scene we see Julie holding part of a calf’s leg while she describes how to render it down. 

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above mentioned scenes

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group mare unlikely to be disturbed by the above mentioned scenes

Product placement

The film Julie and Julia contains some product placement including

  • Blog spot, Sony computers, Pay Pal, and cookbooks, particularly Mastering the art of French cooking.

Sexual references

The film contains some sexual references and innuendoes. Examples include:

  • While reading from a French cook book, Julia’s husband makes suggestive reference to a hen (chicken) being “stuffed until she just can’t take it any more”
  • Julie talks about one of her friends having sex while in the air with her new boyfriend who has a plane. 
  • We hear that when Julia (in her mid thirties) and Paul first met, Julia was a virgin.
  • Julie’s husband tells her that he has a problem: too much food and not enough sex.
  • During a government interrogation Paul is asked whether he is a homosexual.
  • When Julia picks up noodles in her hands she makes the comment “these are as hot as a stiff cock”.   

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some infrequent partial nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • In one scene we see Paul wearing a robe that reveals his bare chest. He is lying on a bed with Julia, who is clothed. They kiss and turn off the light and Paul lies on top of Julia; the scene ends.    
  • Julie and Eric are kissing on a couch. Eric climbs on top of Julie before the scene ends.
  • We see Paul arriving home for lunch and hear narration about how he would take a nap after lunch. We see Julia and Paul entering the bedroom with Julia slipping Paul’s braces from his shoulders. 
  • Julie jumps on to her husband and kisses him and we then see her in her bra and panties with her legs wrapped around her husband as he carries her to the bedroom.
  • Julia and Paul sit in a bath filled with soap bubbles so that only their shoulders are visible. They had used a self timing camera take their photo while in the bath to use as a postcard to send to her sister. 

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • In the story relating to Julia we see characters drinking alcohol frequently and smoking cigarettes and cigars. Alcohol is consumed with meals at parties, and during social events. However, the film contains no images of intoxicated people or behaviour. 
  • There is similar alcohol consumption in the scenes from 2002, but no smoking.

Coarse language

There is some infrequent coarse language and name calling in this movie. Example include:

  • Dupe, pig, damn, stiff cock, bitch, shit, hell, arsehole, fuck them.

In a nutshell

Julie and Julia is based upon two separate stories woven together into a single comedy, targeted mainly at adults, but also well suited to older adolescents or anyone who has a passion for food or cooking. The film is highly entertaining from start to finish with a number of truly funny moments with Meryl Streep’s performance being particularly outstanding.

The main messages contained within this film are:

  • Find what you are passionate about in life and use that to give your life meaning

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Determination and hard work: Both Julia and Julie were determined to finish what they started and to succeed in their endeavours. Regardless of setbacks both women repeatedly refused to accept defeat.
  • Encouragement and supportive behaviour: Both women had partners who were willing to supply their support in any way possible particular with verbal encouragement.  

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Parents may wish to discuss how in this film males take a supportive role rather than a more dominating role. What influence might this have on how women are viewed?
  • The film depicted people in the 1950 as a society/culture heavily addicted to smoking cigarettes, while smoking in 2002 was non-existent. What message does this send about smoking?
  • The McCarthy era in US politics

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