Bright Lights Film Journal

Manhattan to America: Drop Dead! <em>The New Yorker</em> Takes a Slap at Julia Roberts

“The more he writes about Julia, the madder Tony gets.”

One thing the American people do not need in their lives is more stress. They do not need some tea-sipping, mousse-licking son of a sybarite telling them what to think about Julia Roberts. They do not need sixty column-inches of sissy-britches prose dedicated to ridiculing one of the most beloved actresses of our time.

But that, in the March 26 issue of The New Yorker, is precisely what they get, courtesy of Anthony (“You can call me Tony”) Lane, one of that pestilent publication’s most insufferable boulevardiers. Mr. Lane, who in all likelihood has never been west of the Hudson River but to urinate, works himself into a rhetorical frenzy more appropriate for cataloguing the crimes of Hitler than analyzing the appeal of an actress who has brought happiness into the lives of millions.

Like a lot of overpaid smartasses, Mr. Lane has been beating on Julia for a long time, and remains smugly unrepentant. “No amount of retrospection,” he sneers, “will transform Mystic Pizza into Three Sisters, although the plots are not that different, and none of us can say what would have happened if Chekhov had recovered from tuberculosis and gone into the pepperoni business.”1

Mr. Lane is somehow offended, though hardly surprised, that many Americans regard Mystic Pizza as their favorite film.2 “These are, admittedly, the same people whose notion of a good movie is one that enables them to lie on the couch and snuffle into their Cookie Dough Chip.”3

The more he writes about Julia, the madder Tony gets. She just can’t get it right for him. Her older brother is Eric Roberts! Her parents were “theatre-thirsty”!4 She’s too generous to other actresses! She dies too often! She isn’t tiny and Belgian-born! The corners of her mouth aren’t down-turned! She has too many famous boy-friends!5 She won’t appear naked!

She’s a movie star, Tony. It’s her job. I saw Julia being “herself” once, on David Letterman. She struck me as self-absorbed. Movie stars are shits! Who knew! If you have a problem with that, it’s your problem, not hers.

“It’s asking a lot, but Julia Roberts could yet be as awesome as Dan Quayle,” Tony concludes. Yeah, Tony, and if you keep it up, you could yet be as awesome as fricking Marilyn Quayle, if you’re lucky. If!

  1. I can say, Tony. He’d be living in Manhattan, writing your column. []
  2. It’s certainly one of my favorites. []
  3. Oh, Tony, you bitch. []
  4. But not, apparently, famous. Ha! Losers! []
  5. Julia’s failed marriage to Lyle Lovett pushes Tony’s wit into the stratosphere: “Lovett and Roberts split up two years later; one can only imagine the pain of separation, what with Julia trying to yank her mane of ringlets away from the scary Velcro thatch of her beloved.” You write this shit yourself, Tony, or did your mom help you? []