I know, save your hate mail--I am reviewing a "chick flick," but in my defense, this isn't some crappy Kate Hudson-JLO-Jennifer Aniston catastrophe; this was a pretty pleasant coming of age story a la Superbad or Adventureland, but told from the perspective of and with a target audience of women.
What I liked: Ellen Page carried this movie, and did it while being super-cute too. I don't normally find her all that attractive: I did think she was cute in X-Men 3, but she was too sarcastic/pregnant to be cute in Juno. That being said she succeeds at playing the teenager finding herself, and does it without making it sound as contrived as my summation of her role. Daniel Stern did a really good job of playing the dad who, while he loves his daughters dearly, I'm sure, wishes that he had a son.
What I didn't like: The bitter aftertaste. The story was told in a way that you knew where it was going, but the characters are likable enough that you're down for the ride. But after you think about what made it good, it falls apart. The same thing happened with Avatar for me. I enjoyed the movie, and don't think 3D has been better presented, but the story was, well... overused. It's like driving a brand new car with the engine of a model T. Wow it looks shiny and new, but doesn't it run a little slowly? Haven't I seen this movie before? Sad times. It didn't bug me while watching, but it does now.
A coming of age story to recommend more than this? With a sports spin? And a predominately female cast?
Okay so I'm gonna have to bite the bullet here. Mash up A League of Their Own with Juno and you've got yourself this movie here. Juno to me, while enjoyable was a bit forgettable, but that's a pretty good coming of age tale and that's what the storyline in Whip It really was. My personal opinion of Juno is that it is too clever for its own good. The story is solid and the cast is great, but it just seemed too hip and too cool. So while everyone was going ballistic praising it I couldn't help but feel that this movie is too much in the now, using phrases that nobody ever uses ("Honest to blog?" Really?) but still has a modern feel to it. That was my problem: it doesn't feel timeless and I don't think it will stand the test of time. That being said Juno is better made than Whip It... so long as you watch it within the next 5 years or so.
And of course I can't really forget to mention the other great coming of age story for dudes: Superbad. Yeah it's crass and offensive, but that's how guys talk. My friends would speak that way in middle school all the time. No joke. Having a movie written by some 40 year old screen writer who tries to make dialogue sound young has been done before. It's a hard R for language because that's how male teenagers are. I can understand why that might be a reason why some people didn't like the movie, but so long as little boys are offensive this will remain timeless. Whip It, and/or Juno didn't grab me the same way but I still think that they are both good movies in their own ways.
Agree? Disagree? Have I missed a movie? I'm always down for watching a movie folks. Let me know what the best coming of age stories for females are. I don't think it's readily available right now. (*heh* Secretary just popped in my mind, but I don't know if that would count)
Until next time folks!
But Zchill will return in Zchill 2: The Revenge of the Subtitle