Thursday, January 03, 2008
Walk Hard to Juno
Despite my good intentions, I only made it to the cineplex twice during my holiday break. What follows is my take on the two films I witnessed.
Silly good fun is to be had in this parody of the cliche-prone music bio-pic genre (more specifically, the overly praised Walk the Line). Walk Hard was brought to you by the suddenly prolific Apatow crew. I'm guessing the remarkable success of Knocked Up has given Judd green light privileges ad infinitum—or at least until his predictable future downslide into drugs, dildos and despair.
John C. Reilly is pleasing, as always. He plays a kind of musically gifted Gomer Pyle who struggles with childhood misery before a rise to fame, followed shortly by a decline into drugs, dildos and despair. Jenna Fischer does a very nice job de-Pamming herself in the June Carter Cash-ish role. Nice to see so many Groundlings and SNL cast members getting screen time, too.
The humor is Zucker Brothers-esque (think Airplane, although it doesn't soar to those heights). The music is polished and pleasing. The performances are very charming. In summary, if you want to see a movie that will require little else aside from toe-tapping and knee-slapping, Walk Hard is for you.
While I had sworn on a stack of IUDs that I wouldn't see Juno until it hit DVD due to its exhaustive over-marketing, I ended up buying a ticket for it on a whim.* I'm really glad I did.
Juno wasn't the joke-a-minute quirkfest I'd expected from the trailer that ran ad nauseum. The film actually has a very sweet heart to it. Diablo Cody, the former stripper who penned the script, should be a proud movie mama. Based on the smart, fresh humor her dialogue** exhibited, I bet she'd be a lot of fun to hang out with—potential lap dances aside. Juno offers an appealing lo-fi soundtrack and animated title sequence, too.
While the lead actress, Ellen Paige, is getting a lot of well-deserved praise for her turn as the knocked-up teen with deadpan (labor and) delivery, I was also impressed with adoptive mother Jennifer Garner. She walked the line between annoying up-tightness and motherhood-melting sweetness very nicely.
*On a whim = Being too buzzed to leave the theater complex after two post-Walk Hard glasses of champagne quaffed in the company of the famed Skinny Arbuckle.
**I've heard a few people complain about the self-conscious cleverness of the Juno script. Yes, it is heavy-handed in the quirk department. No, there is no real teen (or adult, for that matter) who talks with that kind of crazy-high batting average of smart/funny/pop culture-reference-packed pronouncements. Yes, the scenes where Jason Bateman's character bonds over music and horror films with Juno are self-congratulatory overkill. Yet...yet. Unlike the quip-spewing Gilmore Girls, who I could never bear, I wish the girl named Juno was real. Some of the stuff she said is like the stuff I think, but don't say because it's way too eccentric. The dialogue will annoy many, decidedly (mostly dudes who won't have the patience for it). But I think it's worth suspending a little disbelief to enjoy the ear candy.