Thursday, July 10, 2008

Nick and Nora's Infinite Backlash

[By the way, how awesome am I with the segues today? From Angel to Joss to backlashes and back here again? Keppin' it thematic, y'all!]

Anyway, for the second time in two days I've seen bloggers rip on the poster for the upcoming Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist, the Michael Cera movie about teenage love and whatever, whatever. And both times the movie was getting pre-emptively bashed for the sins of Juno, a movie for which the backlash has grown as the months have gone on (to the point where I'm starting to defend it more and more despite being only halfway happy with it). If you've heard one criticism of Juno (or Little Miss Sunshine or Rocket Science or The Darjeeling Limited or anything filmed on the cheap that dares to eschew gritty realism and violence), you've heard them all: "Indie quirk! Indie quirk! It's quirky! And indie!" And then a whole lot about how much you wanted to punch any number of the characters in the face for being such goddamn smartasses.

The last few years has seen a dramatic rise in anti-quirk sentiment, not all of it unjustified. Trust me, I hated the over-stylized dialogue and exhausting art direction in Juno as much as anyone. But I also managed to watch the other parts of that movie; the ones that featured honest familial relationships and a main character who clearly didn't know as much as she thought she did. I was also resolutely opposed to the fairly popular notion that Little Miss Sunshine was a shit movie simply because Steve Carell was gay, Alan Arkin was on drugs, and Paul Dano didn't speak. Apparently that was too much weirdness to embrace. Maybe if Arkin had beaten Dano to death with a bowling pin it'd have been better received.

It's not that you're not allowed to hate these movies, but too often the discussions of their merits have been oversimplified and allowed to stand on shaky legs. "It's too quirky" doesn't tell me anything.

And as for Nick and Nora...I understand the underlying anger at the trend of fake-indie movies getting produced by MTV Films that are being cynically marketed as to fool teenagers into thinking they're watching something far more subversive than it is (or subversive at all, really). I hated Napoleon Dynamite too. But to allow your hatred of Juno to blind you to the fantastic comic ability of one Michael Cera does no one any favors. Because the font is similar? Let the movie breathe a bit.

1 comment:

patty m. said...

Thank you for a rational defense of Juno, a movie I wanted to hate (if I read another puff piece about Diablo Cody, I'm going to lose it - Yeah, she was a stripper, blah blah blah) but couldn't. Once the screenplay moved past the painfully precious dialog in the first few scenes, there was plenty to like. And Michael Cera rules.