Watching the same movie every day for a year may sound tedious and absurd, but on November 10, 2010, Lawrence Dai ’09, sleep-deprived after an interminable finals week at Northwestern University, committed to do just that. As of today, Dai has watched the 2009 comedy-drama Julie & Julia 297 times consecutively, blogging about his experience daily.
Julie & Julia follows the story of Julia Child, a cook who publishes a recipe book on French cuisine during the 1950s, and Julie Powell, a blogger who cooked through all of the recipes in Child’s cookbook The Art of French Cooking, according to the Internet Movie Database.
“Julie Powell managed to cook/blog her way through all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s cookbook in a year, learning valuable life lessons along the way. I hope to learn as much, if not more, by watching the film Julie & Julia every day for a year,” wrote Dai in his blog description.
Dai blogs about his Julie & Julia viewing experience daily, with posts covering Julie & Julia reimagined as dinosaurs, Julie & Julia reimagined with robots, Julie & Julia reimagined as beavers and Julie & Julia haikus.
Every Tuesday, Dai runs “Random Actor Tuesday,” featuring random characters in the Julie & Julia storyline. Previous Tuesdays include the blurry outline of a conductor in a train passing in the background of a scene, Julie Powell’s cubicle mate and a man who sells Julie Child cheese.
Dai said his saga started after sent a text to his friends saying that it would be funny if someone watched Julie & Julia every day for a year and wrote a blog about it. When a friend dared him to, “Just do it,” Dai didn’t realize what he had gotten himself into.
“I thought it would be funny to write a blog about a movie about a blogger,” said Dai.
Dai’s blog currently has over 1,000 followers and averages 1,500 to 2,000 visitors each day.
“I have regular readers and it is fun to interact with them. I think they get a kick out of the fact that someone is putting themselves through this torture,” said Dai.
Dai’s opinion of the movie changed rapidly since the beginning of the project. Although Dai enjoys entertaining his readers, he now dreads watching Julie & Julia because he dislikes the movie and thinks that it is too long.
After watching the film for the first time, Dai wrote, “I am bowled over with relief… Julie & Julia is a compelling and surprisingly dense narrative, chock full of dramatic tension and charming moments.”
However, after viewing Julie & Julia for 294 days, Dai said, “It is not a very good movie and it has no right to be 2 hours long. If you watch it once you’ll notice that it drags. I have watched it 294 times, and it never gets any shorter.”
“I will never watch Julie and Julia again after this year is over,” he added.
Dai also said that he noticed parallels between the movie and his blogging project.
“The first time I watched the movie, I was annoyed when Julie kept checking her blog for comments. The next week, I realized that I am the one who is looking forward to reading my fans’ comments,” said Dai.
Despite the similarity between Julie and himself, Dai said that he prefers Julia Child to Julie Powell.
“I think Julie Powell is one of the most self- centered, insufferable people, and she gets more and more annoying every time you watch the movie. My greatest fear in life is to turn into her, which I may actually be doing,” said Dai.
Dai’s interest in becoming a comedy writer began at Phillips Academy when he worked as a Features Editor for The Phillipian. One of his proudest accomplishments was the fake copies of The Exonian published in the fall of his Senior year.
“It was great having the Andover community embrace The Phillipian. I guess I just like to make people laugh,” said Dai.
He currently majors in Radio, TV and Film and is also involved in a sketch comedy group at Northwestern.
“I didn’t have an outlet like Features at college, so that is one of the reasons why I started the Julie & Julia blog,” said Dai.
Several news outlets have mentioned the blog recently, such as Time.com, and MSNBC.
“Many interviewers still think that my blog is a food blog. I was on NPR and my interviewer kept asking me questions about cooking. I don’t know anything about cooking, so it was awkward. I told her that I microwave Raman sometimes,” said Dai.