Sunday, February 10, 2008

Honest to Blog, Our Standards Are Low

Its merciless public relations onslaught aside, Juno is not a horrendous film. Off the top of my head, I can think of a dozen movies released in 2007 to which it is considerably superior.

Nonetheless, it is an extremely unlikable film, for both the well-documented, fingernails-on-a-chalkboard faux-hipster dialogue that permeates it and, concurrently, the slobbering praise it has been receiving since even before its release. Public Enemy Number One on both counts is ex-stripper Diablo Cody, as skilled at self-promotion as she is overrated as a screenwriter. With the help of her hardworking publicist, she has positioned herself as the cool-kid commodity du jour in Hollywood (at least for the next 14 minutes or so)--and one need look no further for evidence that she is more image than substance than her ridiculous self-applied moniker. "Brook Busey" apparently didn't ring false enough for our lady's tastes, so she became "Diablo Cody"--a name so obnoxiously stupid for a human being that it might as well be "Crunchwrap Supreme".

On Saturday, Crunchwrap disappointingly won the WGA Award for original screenplay, proving that even writers have not remained immune to Juno's ubiquitous PR snowblower.

Everyone involved with Juno--especially those on the marketing side (and I include Crunchwrap in that group)--wants us to believe that it's an "outsider" movie that defiantly bucks tradition with an unlit pipe clenched in its teeth and a jug of Sunny D hanging loosely from its fingertips. But the truth is that simply eschewing explosions and Sandra Bullock in favor of the Moldy Peaches and hamburger phones does not classify unconventional storytelling. Beneath its surface, Juno is just as much of an assembly-line product as a piece of crap like Transformers is, only it came off a line of a different sort: the realm of cookie-cutter quirk (much like its equally overpraised predecessor, Little Miss Sunshine). I did not find a single moment in Juno to be unexpected (except for, perhaps, the discovery that I had it in me to want to slap a fictional 16-year-old pregnant girl for talking like a fictional 29-year-old screenwriter), right down to the red-alert copout of turning Jason Bateman's otherwise likable character into a lecherous would-be pederast for the sole reason that Crunchwrap couldn't figure out what to do with him. You'd think most voting members of the Writers Guild of America would have least keyed in on that--alas, they did not, and the phony-baloney Crunchwrap Supreme train rolls on toward the Academy Awards with a full head of steam.

Crunchwrap winning a WGA Award is equivalent to Mira Sorvino winning an Oscar. Should Crunchwrap win an Oscar, it will be equivalent to Milli Vanilli winning a Grammy. And just like the Recording Academy did with Rob and Fab, one's only hope in such a scenario will be that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will later realize that they were had and revoke Crunchwrap's undeserved prize.

In the meantime, let's just sit on a stoop and expeditiously commence an acoustic duet. 'Cause that's real, homeskillet. That shit's real.


-The Shiny Happy Mama- said...

Ugh. Juno. We are in full agreement here. There were only three or four really good scenes in the whole thing, IMO. The rest toes the line between exasperating hipster crap and unsavory fantasy.

(and...making me dislike Jason Bateman a little bit? Not cool!)

Interesting post, J :-)

David Coggeshall said...

Yeah, I wanted to punch the screen. But instead, I simply decided to punch everyone I meet who gushes "Oh, I loved Juno!", or even utters the names Diablo Cody or Ellen Page.

By the way, I saw the trailer for new Ellen Page vehicle "Smart People", and I'm happy to report that her range (and by range, I mean her ability to act like Juno again) extends to other films.