Chick Flick Picks: Paradise
It’s not an understatement to say that Diablo Cody burst onto the scene with a splash as the screenwriter of the 2007 indie darling Juno. Since then, she’s delivered on that early promise, adding smarts and girl power to the horror genre with the underrated Jennifer’s Body and giving all us Francine Pascal-wannabes a not-so-pretty wake-up call with Young Adult. Her acerbic, pop culture-heavy and, yes, quirky screenplays seem to have especially benefitted from director Jason Reitman’s purposeful yet hip visual style, which may be why Cody’s directorial debut, Paradise, falls a bit short of her earlier efforts.
Paradise is the story of small-town, God-fearing Lamb (Julianne Hough), who was tragically injured in a plane crash. After suffering a loss of faith, Lamb decides to sin her way through Sin City as a way of opening her eyes to the world outside of her sheltered upbringing. Leaving behind her Montana home and her parents (Holly Hunter and a nearly unrecognizable Nick Offerman), Lamb soon acquires two tour guides through Las Vegas in a bartender (Russell Brand) and a singer (Octavia Spencer). Over the course of one night and many ups and downs, she begins to learn how to find her own piece of paradise on earth.
Honestly, I wanted to like the movie more than I did, but if you’re looking for something positive and empowering to watch, Paradise is a good chick flick pick. While, for me, Juno struck the perfect mixture of heart and bite, Paradise is heavy on the heart with not a lot of bite (I guess all of Cody’s bite got used up in the cynical Young Adult). But the actors and the screenplay help make what could’ve veered into saccharine Lifetime territory instead become a small, sweet story that may just make you want to book a ticket to Vegas.
Paradise opens in theaters tomorrow and is currently available on demand.
Check out the trailer.