Was Julia Roberts the Wrong Actress for Eat, Pray, Love?

The opening weekend of Eat, Pray, Love is being billed as a success, earning $23 million and second only to Sly Stallone's action ensemble The Expendables at $35 million.  Not surprisingly, more than 70% of the audience for EPL were women and movie marketers expect a long run for the film into the fall since women are less likely than men to rush out to see a movie on opening weekend. 

As Owen Gleiberman at Entertainment Weekly also observes, The Expendables, EPL, and the third opening film Scott Pilgrim, were perfectly timed to open this weekend, targeting the male, female, and youth segments respectively.

Also of interest, the run-up and opening for EPL propelled book sales with 94,000 copies sold since Aug. 1 more than were sold in 2006, the first year of the book's release.

But the success of EPL is not without detractors.  Linda Holmes, at NPR's Monkey See blog, argues that the film leaves out important plot elements of the book.

And I can't help but wonder if the film would have done better with a different actress, especially among young adult women under 35. The talk has been building around this movie here in Washington, DC social circles for at least a month, and a common complaint I hear from female friends is that Julia Roberts just doesn't match their image of the main character.  As one friend puts it: "You expect the main character to look like she enjoys eating.  That's a big part of the book, and Julia Roberts just doesn't look that part."

What do readers think?

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