21 April 2008
As most of you are aware, I've had something of a busy year (as in, I've actually moved 3 times in the last 15 months) and part of the fallout is that I'm so very, very behind on my film watching. (I am, however, doing much better on my It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia viewing) There's a big stack of uber-indie DVDs I still have to watch and review and one of these days I'll get around to finishing a new script. I'll actually haven't yet watched No Country For Old Men, if that tells you how behind I am.
Anyway, that's all to say that I didn't see Juno this year until Oscar night (on the way to an Oscar party, actually). By that time, I'd heard from everyone alive how much I would love it. I'd even heard some of the backlash from my fellow bloggers. Actually, to be more accurate, I'd heard about it, not wanting to actually know what the backlash entailed before I saw the film.
So I went with my girlfriend to see it, pretty excited as I'm a big fan of Michael Cera and I thought Jason Reitman's Thank You For Smoking was highly underrated. Also, there was that buzz about the script. Apparently the wittiest, cleverest thing this side of Oscar Wilde.
Five minutes in and I can't get over how horrible the dialogue is, how forced it feels, like what someone is trying to imagine a teenager would say. And even if you concede that teenagers would say things like "honest to blog" (the horror), why do the adults speak the same way?
This is a pet peeve of mine, actually, when all the characters in a film have the same vocabulary. It isn't realistic. It isn't even probable. Tarantino does this all the time and it annoys the hell out of me.
Back to the point: I'm suffering through Juno, trying to figure out how this script got optioned, much less an Oscar nomination, and suddenly it shifts. The film turns serious and before I know it, I'm invested in the characters, but not hers as much as the rest of them. Maybe I can't get over the "honest to blog" bullshit, or maybe I just like those characters more than her, which is strange because the film so clearly wants to push her as the protagonist. I'm supposed to be in her camp.
I didn't really think much of it until recently when my girlfriend was telling me that she has a lot of trouble liking anything that she's heard is really good, as her expectations get built up to levels the films cannot actually reach. There's a ton of films that can easily fall under this heading: Napoleon Dynamite (her first example), The Sixth Sense, Juno, The Matrix, The Shawshank Redemption, and the list goes on.
And I think maybe I don't come across this all that often because I'm usually one of the first people I know to see something, so I have a fresh perspective, but there's gotta be something to the fact that the part of the film that got the most hype I found to be awful and the parts that no one talked about (you know, the non-flashy parts) I found to be so good.
I wonder what that is? Is public opinion that bad or is my reaction to it so severe? I hope not. Maybe it's a combination. I don't really know.