Is Julia Roberts Too Old To Draw Moviegoers?

The Julia Roberts-Clive Ownes movie “Duplicity” comes to theaters today, and all anyone seems to be talking about is Roberts’ comeback. Since getting married to cameraman Danny Moder in 2002, Roberts has graced the big screen, but not in a lead role. In “Is Julia Roberts’s Box-Office Reign Over?” Newsweek considers whether the ’90s superstar will be able to keep up with the likes of Judd Apatow and friends at the box office. Time also looks at Roberts’ career and the choices she has made, saying, “If you’re nostalgic for the pretty woman in pink-and-black spandex, too bad. Roberts isn’t shoehorning herself back into a prostitute’s work outfit. She’s too sensible to even try.” E Online crunched numbers on career box-office performances of 10 lead actresses and 10 lead actors who turned 40 in the last decade. Sadly, they discovered that only the films of two actresses — Sarah Jessica Parker and Jennifer Aniston — have grossed above their career averages after 40. For men, the opposite was true; only two of the 10 actors considered grossed less after turning 40 (Keanu Reeves and Will Smith).

So, will America go see Julia Roberts’ new movie, or is she just too old for us to care about her anymore? Like Time, I am hoping the path Julia has been taking these past few years continues. Silly, self-focused romantic comedies should be left to twenty and thirtysomethings, because those kind of roles just wouldn’t be right for Roberts anymore. But there’s still a place for her as a lead in smarter, more mature movies. True, the kiddies might not flock to see them, but this woman still has plenty of fans, and she’s shifted to a different type of role because she knew she had to evolve to stay relevant. Here’s what the critics are saying about Roberts’ performance in “Duplicity.” Overall, they seem to be glad she’s back.

“In addition to their obvious box office appeal, Roberts and Owen are just the right casting.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“For this film, her first real starring role in quite a while, Ms. Roberts has almost entirely left behind the coltish, America’s-sweetheart mannerisms, except when she uses them strategically, to disarm or confuse. Curvier than she used to be and with a touch of weariness around her eyes and impatience in her voice, she is, at 41, umistakably in her prime.” – A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“I’d forgotten how much of a movie star Roberts can be, given the right gift-wrapping. She and Owen look as if they belong onscreen together.” – Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

“Duplicity doesn’t have depth — but it does have Julia Roberts, in full Hollywood movie-star mode. And for filmgoers with scaled-back expectations, that news may be enough. It is an undeniable thrill to see her again — amazingly, naturally, inimitably starry as ever over 20 years into her scrutinized career, her sleek, horsey, long-limbed charms communicable with a simple trademark beaming smile. Here is a celebrity addressable on a first-name basis — not an approach recommended when extending a hand to pet the tigress Angelina Jolie. Julia is her own top secret product.” – Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly