Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Wisdom of Julia Roberts

Saturday night I was watching Steel Magnolias. Yes, this makes me sound like a loser, but in my defense I'd hosted a party at my house the night before and was dreading what turned out to be a very bad date the next evening.  More on this in future posts.

Anyway, I was watching Julia Roberts play Shelby in her dreadful, ghastly front-pleated trousers and that awful sweater she wore to the holiday carnival--the eighties were bad for everyone, but imagine seeing what your stylist talked you into embarrassing you past mortality.  Not sure even $20 million a picture would fix that.

I knew soon she'd be on life support, but had dropped in in time for one of my favorite lines of the movie.  And it occurred to me, like a guy quoting Pacino, that many of my favorites of all time came from that funny-looking yet impossible not to look at woman from Smyrna, GA.

In order of like, these are mine:

"I'd rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special." This line has led me to fall into ill-advised love affairs, expensive spa treatments and more than a couple of afternoons drinking on patios.  But she wanted to be a mama, and she was married to a philandering Southern man.  ("I thought it might makes things..better." Ah said, Sally Field's raised eyebrows as they understood.) When you're tragic, you get away with this.

"It's easier to believe the bad stuff." In Pretty Woman, she was the gorgeous girl who doubted herself.  Maybe it was because she was a hooker, or maybe she became one because of it.  This movie didn't plumb the depths of her psyche (though Richard Gere did discuss his therapy) but unlike in real life, she didn't remain a dirty little secret to her dream man and he made good on his compliments. In spite of unreality, it made all of us feel better to know a girl who had hair like that still remembered what the mean girls said in biology class.  And then was redeemed by her Prince Charming.  This is the part I don't like about the movie.  I always wished she'd gone off to the London School of Economics and beaten Richard out on a LBO, or whatever those finance people did back then.

When she messed up her pantry.  This isn't technically a line, but when she looks at her tidy cupboard and throws everything around in a rebellion against her controlling husband in Sleeping With the Enemy, we all feel like she's broken free.  (In my own similar act, I used to clean out my ex-husband's travesty of a home office while he traveled.  We all have our ways.) Of course we know the bastard won't let her go and she'll have to shoot his sorry ass.  I was always so happy that she did it instead of her new boyfriend, who got knocked out early and only woke up after the ex was quite dead.

"I'm just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her." K, pathetic, but in Notting Hill she was playing herself and what guy, even Hugh Grant, could resist?  To be truthful, my favorite line in this film is when Hugh looks at her with messy hair and no makeup first thing in the morning and says, "You have never been lovelier to me than you are now."  Which makes me pathetic, I suppose, but gee.

And when gorgeous, tuxedo-clad George Clooney, the scoundrel who has lied and stolen and nearly destroyed her professional reputation in Ocean's Eleven asks her about her new love Andy Garcia, "Does he make you laugh?" she says, a beacon of strength to all of us women who've struggled to break free of a charmer: "He doesn't make me cry." 

Yes, it turns out that Andy loves money more than Julia, but George is bad news for her and sequels always suck, as Ocean's Twelve did for sure.

Do you have favorite Julia quotes?

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