“Young Adult” rules, the wry ’80s teen horror homage “Jennifer’s Body” would have fared far better with another director, and “Juno“—regardless of what you think of that film and its pop-culture referencing protagonist—has become an indie film classic (haters, let us remind you it won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Lead Actress). So with screenwriter Diablo Cody making her directorial debut, “Paradise,” it’s time to get excited, right?
Mmmm … maybe not so much … The film, about a sheltered, small town Montana teenager who loses her Christian faith and tries to embrace the unknown in Las Vegas, curiously bypassed the Toronto International Film Festival this fall—if you’re a celebrity, the festival is notorious for giving out premieres like they’re gift bags—and strangely premiered on DirecTV of all places in early August (where no one really saw it). Hiding much? Well, we did see it and if we’re to believe our review—ouch—it sounds like an eyesore. Our review described it as deeply cloying, falling “tonally somewhere between a Lifetime after school special and a cheeky, self-satisfied Disney Channel episode of ‘Sweet Valley High.’ ”
The film stars Julianne Hough, Russell Brand and Octavia Spencer; here’s the official synopsis:
Writer-director Diablo Cody (Academy Award® winner for Best Screenplay, Juno, 2007) delivers this hilarious tale of innocence lost and paradise found, starring Julianne Hough (Safe Haven), Octavia Spencer (Academy Award™ winner for Best Supporting Actress, The Help, 2011) and Russell Brand, Get Him to the Greek). After a nearly fatal accident, 21-year-old Lamb Mannerheim (Hough) is beginning to realize that the world is much bigger than her small, God-fearing Montana town. Armed with a big, fat insurance payout and a checklist of untried sins, there’s only one place for her first taste of temptation…Las Vegas! Now this wide-eyed, innocent girl will have to navigate the bright lights, seedy bars and dark alleys of “Sin City.” And, with the help of a few new friends (Brand and Spencer), Lamb just might survive her strange adventure and discover what it means to really live. Holly Hunter (Academy Award winner™, Best Actress, The Piano, 1993) and Nick Offerman (TV’s “Parks and Recreation”) also star in this oddball odyssey of lost souls, broken faith and cheap cocktails…a true journey of the heart.
So if you’re like this writer, you still dig Diablo Cody and want to give the film a shot, so check out these two clips below for yourself. However, these are, ahem, special. Our review writes about one particular clip below and it’s a little troubling. “The movie even calls for Octavia Spencer’s character explaining aloud the narrative convention of the magical negro in relation to Caucasian characters (just like it’s happening in the movie!).” Hmm, your thoughts?
“Paradise” lands in theaters on October 18th, though its distributor, RLJ Entertainment, doesn’t exactly trade in wide releases. Its most recent films are “Winnie Mandela” and the much-maligned “Passion Play” …