Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Movies: Harold & Kumar, and Juno

So the writer's strike has me watching more movies (the Juno review is on bottom if you haven't seen it, don't scroll down.) First I want to say how much I am looking forward to Harold and Kumar, Part Deux. The new trailer has me salivating. Jeez, I hope I don't over hype what is basically your standard, really intelligent stoner move that makes fun of stereotypes, but . . . H&K the original was funky fresh and full of flavor and life and I can watch it over and over and over. But now they've got Rob Cordhry in the mix, in addition to the infamous Neil Patrick Harris. How can it go wrong?!?

Also, I want to say, thank god they now make funny teenage movies that are smart, with Asian American actors. Who knew American Pie would turn out John Cho as one of our prime APA actors, and who knew one of our prime APA actors would turn out to make hilarious movies that don't suck even if you're not high? Cos H&K is much better than even primo-geek Kevin Smith's Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. By magnitudes. (Actually, it was sorta painful.)

Now onto Juno. . .

What can I say about Juno, except that it's written by what all the reviewers are calling a blogger, except that she used to be a stripper who blogged?

Diablo Cody wrote an endearing, warm, whipsmart film that is entirely en pointe. The tone is spot on, it's wicked funny and smarmy and precocious, just like its lead actress. And yeah, it is too clever for its own good, but given the tripe that most Hollywood movies are, I would rather have a film NOT insult my intelligence. Juno is geekdom and alienation and a really sassy teenage girl who knows exactly how to get what she wants, even if she doesn't know what she always wants, and the casting of Michael Cera with Jason Bateman will have Arrested Development fans screaming with joy. (Let me just tell you that they never appear onstage together, but the overall dialogue and antics would fit right into an Arrested Development episode.)

Plus there's Allison Janney (CJ from West Wing) as Juno's mom, and a soundtrack from adolescence, if the teenager in question had really good taste and was a music reviewer like one of my friends from long, long ago. One of the few unrealistic bits was that her parents didn't freak out more. I know that I come from a more conservative culture, but I feel like most American parents would still have a heart attack if their kid came home preggers at age 16, including my friends who grew up in hippie dippy families.

Juno is the girl who never cared what other people thought of her, the one who words couldn't hurt, the tough gothy, nerdcore free spirit who was on a first-name basis with her teachers, when she went to school. But she still scored 4s and 5s on her APs. She's the one that jocks secretly wanted when they were banging the blonde cheerleader ditzes. (Oh, I'm not sure that cheerleaders and freaks are friends in real life - minor detail.) She's the one who every girl kinda wished they could be and every guy wanted a piece of.

People compare it to Little Miss Sunshine, but I think the writing in Juno is just wonderfully more raw and revealing, while the fierce-sardonic dialogue kind of glides over that. I watched Juno with some high school friends and it was just like being back there, except without the angst and pain (which the movie is strangely free of - in reality, I'm sure she would have gotten so much more crap from everyone at school.)

In short, Juno stole my heart, and I'm sure she'll steal yours.

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