Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Comedy Double Feature! Role Models and Juno

This last weekend I did not see Quantum or Twilight, but Role Models because I had a few free passes (which can’t be used on new releases) and the trailer struck me as legitimately funny. I was greatly relieved to find that they did not use up all the good lines; Hamlet 2 and Pineapple Express, I’m looking at you.

In fact, Role Models does a much better job of actually realizing the comic potential of its premise. Of course, that could be because it aims lower. The notion of a stoner action movie and a sequel to hamlet both abound with possibility. It isn’t very hard to see the arc of “Two misfits are forced to act as role models for two younger misfits!” Yet the hilarity, it doth ensue.

It is crude at times (Pee joke? Check), offensive at others (Teaching a kid how to properly ogle a woman breasts? Check) and frequently, nonsensically stupid (eight-year-old kid with eight-year-old-kid legs driving a car? Check). At the same time there is enough creativity and character to put those flaws to good purpose. In other words, it has a very novel pee jokes. But really, Jane Lynch’s character, the drug-addict turned mentor program supervisor, and the LARP parody scenes alone make the film well-worth watching.

The weekend before last, I saw an even better comedy. One of the best movies to be released in the past few years actually. A movie called Juno. I realize I’m about a year late to the party, but that’s the way I role. Look for my take on The Dark Knight in 2015. In my defense, several of my writer-nerd friends also have yet to see it and I now understand how sad that is. Because Juno is brilliantly written.

It’s a simple story with a lot of complex issues, but Diablo Cody keeps things light-hearted without becoming preachy. At times, some of the issues felt overly simplified, but that’s because the movie aspires to be more than a moral battleground. Honestly, don’t we have enough of those already? The plot is fairly predictable, but it feels natural and moves along quick.

It’s the talking which really makes the movie great though. I have a soft spot for witty repartee and Juno’s is relentlessly witty; think Gilmore Girls written by (and for) the internet generation. Sure, it gets a smidge precious here and there, but it beats the hell out of the stale collection of one-liners culled from MTV that usually constitute teenspeak. Really, Diablo Cody’s “people talking to each other” is the best there is this side of Joss Whedon.

A criticism I do not get is that the titular heroine is too smart for her age. I mean, she is, but I fail to see the problem. The converse happens all the time in Hollywood without complaint or criticism. To me, all the characters seemed to have just the right amount of sass and flaw, though they walk the line when it comes to quirkiness.

In just a couple of hours I will be departing for the frozen north, where food, family and uncertain internet connections await. After that I will be facing off against an onslaught of ‘the suck,’ consisting of thirty pages worth of papers, two tests, a Spanish oral presentation and work to fill in the cracks. If this tempest has an eye to stand in, I’ll try to post something then. If not, I’ll see you on the other side. Till then, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

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