I know they've got a lot of good lawyers out in Hollywood. I'm not so sure about writers and filmmakers. But it would be my suggestion for Wes Anderson to get himself one of those sharks and take out a suit against the makers of Juno. The people who made Garden State, and Sideways, and Little Miss Sunshine might want to join in, in a kind of quirk-infringement class action suit.
Except that they're all too nice to do it.
And, from what I can tell, the mainstream cinematic press certainly won't act to stamp out the odious brand of sweetness being peddled in Juno. So it's up to me.
Rather than go through the moral and ethical crimes committed by this simpering sweet, lily white, toothless, lifeless, TV commercial, I'll just use bullet points, in my quirky, indie-influenced, ready-for-Sundance, all-knowing, snark-free fashion.
(SOUND UP: FAUX NAIF INDIE JANGLY GUITAR MUSIC)
* Hand-written squiggly titles.
* Jangly, soulless emo music.
* Rampant dropping of brand names, pre-vetted for coolness (Sunny D), just far out enough to be on the fringe -- Sonic Youth, Iggy, ycchy.
* Egregious Coca-Cola product placement.
* A sprightly spunky Midwestern teen that nobody understands (anyone remember "Pretty in Pink?").
* An untoward pregnancy with resulting hilarity, especially involving that laugh riot known as the ultra-sound. (Anyone remember Knocked Up?)
* Cardboard cutout characters moving on and offscreen and showing the dotted lines.
Sombre seriousness. Random runners. Jangly guitars.
Let me count the ways.
These are not homages. These are rip-offs. As you watch the movie, you can just hear the meeting at the BIG STUDIO -- cigar-chomping producer, or today's version, wheatgrass-chomping producer -- "GIMME ONE OF THOSE WES ANDERSON THINGS WITH SOME OF THAT LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE SHIT."
"How high?" respond the minions.
Almost wish Harry "don't say yes till I stop talking" Cohn were still around.
The swindle is that this piffle is being taken as serious film. Not even comedy. We are being told to like it. And so, like lemmings, we file into darkened theaters and wish to have plugs in our ears and file out, ripped off. I WANT MY TWO HOURS BACK, I was silently screaming. And, from the glum looks of the throngs piling out of the theater with me, they were singing the same tune.
Why do I care about these people on the screen? What are they showing me about life? Or film? Or anything?
I only wish the estate of Francois Truffaut could get in on the lawsuit, but after seeing Juno, it's apparent that anyone involved with it hasn't seen, let alone ripped off, any of his work. If only. If only...
'Til next time. - Ken Krimstein
Mr. Krimstein is a writer, professor, cartoonist, father, and grump who used to live in New York City. So there.