Diablo Cody’s script for the 2007 dramedy Juno made her an overnight sensation, a rarity in the screenwriter trade. She created indelible characters that, while a mite precious, deserved our undivided attention.
The film even had a sneaky pro-life message.
The trailer for her directorial debut, Paradise, looks like a straight-to-video affair saddled with negative Christian stereotypes.
The film, getting a limited release via DirecTV Aug. 9 followed by a modest theatrical bow this fall, stars Julianne Hough as a former good girl who goes bad on purpose following an accident.
Said good girl is a Christian, and when she hits the road she finds strippers, booze and other worldly pleasures that being a person of faith prevented her from enjoying.
It’s the kind of Christian caricature that’s both lazy and uninspired, and it doesn’t help that the trailer is a snooze. Where’s that perky dialogue Cody can sling with the best of ’em? Are we really clamoring to see Russell Brand as the romantic lead here, as the trailer suggests? Should we giggle at the accident that left part of the protagonist’s body scarred?
Let’s tally up the cliches: The lead character’s religious parents are strict, she lives in the dark regarding the seedier side of life, she decides to let loose in Sin City and only when she breaks the shackles of her faith does she start enjoying life.
Oh, and Christians are racist.
There is an original moment in the trailer, when we see Hough’s character whizzing by on a zip line. The church has a strict no zip line policy … right?
Perhaps the film’s marketers decided to play up the stale elements thinking familiarity will bring audiences flocking to see Paradise. Or, it’s a sign that Cody’s overnight sensation story desperately needs a rewrite.