Directed by Diablo Cody
All of the movies written by Diablo Cody were in a competition to see which one can make you laugh the most — “Paradise” lost. Okay, so that was a lame excuse to make a stale literary reference, but the sentiment is true. “Jennifer’s Body” had hilarious and relevant cultural references coming out the ying-yang. “Young Adult” had Charlize Theron as the perfect trumpet for Cody’s sarcastic brand of humor. “Juno” was a pure masterpiece in quirky and comedic writing. But “Paradise,” unfortunately, is just a composite of all of the overzealous religious beliefs ever mocked on-screen by liberal filmmakers. Cody is so liberal, she recycles old jokes. But it’s not eco-friendly…I’d call it echo-friendly, because everything has been said before.
Julianne Hough basically reprises her role in 2011’s “Footloose” — the uber-conservative, innocent, Christian girl who decides to be a little rebellious after some event changes life as she knows it (in that case, the new boy coming to town; in this case, a plane crash that leaves her with full-body burn scars). She doesn’t think God exists anymore, so she goes to Vegas to do a little sinnin’ with the new friends she meets there — William (Russell Brand) and Loray (Octavia Spencer). But she finds her own form of faith along the way. How original, Miss Cody.
Part of me is glad “Paradise” was made. Hopefully the 4.8/10 IMDb rating is proof enough that Cody should stick to writing and not try directing anymore. “Paradise” shows how disastrous the outcome can be if you give Cody complete freedom. The whole “How could a God allow a Christian person to be hurt like that?” argument has been made countless times. It’s made on almost every episode of “Family Guy.” But Cody tries again, and doesn’t add anything new to the argument. It’s just the same ol’ schlock. And, I’ll add, “Paradise” is one of the most unintentionally ironic movie titles ever.
But sometimes, a movie with lousy dialogue can be saved by good characters…too bad “Paradise” only gives us caricatures. No one to connect with, no one to bother caring about, and at only 83 minutes long, it hardly gives you enough time to even remember their names.
While Cody’s directorial debut comes with a few laugh-worthy lines, the rest of the script is disappointing at best. I wish I hadn’t seen it and forever spoiled my perception of a great screenwriter. Sincerely, your used-to-be biggest fan.
“Paradise” is streaming on Netflix.