One of the most unpleasant movies I've ever seen in my life was Juno*. Cloying, stomach-turning, sickly-cute... ugh. It performed for trembling emaciated emo-hipster girls the same function that Entourage performs for fratty meathead douchebag guys: "I want to be a winsome plucky gamine who says 'honest to blog' and 'homeskillet' just like Juno," thinks the aspiring pixie in just the same way that the Beta house date-rapist says to himself, "I want to be a chilled-out alpha male who fucks tons of gorgeous bitches just like Vinnie Chase." Both Juno and Entourage are/were so successful because their false realities so closely resemble the fantasy worlds of their respective target audiences.
What made me think of this is (500) Days of Summer, a total piece of shit movie that I saw tonight. Like Juno it's a palsied hipster movie full of "indie rock" on the soundtrack. I didn't hate it as much as Juno, but I hated it a lot.
I think Gene Siskel was the film critic who often asked himself while watching a film, Is this movie more interesting than a documentary of the actors in it having lunch for two hours would be? I have different questions. I ask myself, Am I getting more pleasure from this movie than I would from either a) watching the actors in it engage in hardcore sex acts for two hours or b) watching these characters be beaten with cudgels for two hours? Certainly in the case of (500) Days of Summer the answer was NO to both a) and b).
As the movie played I kept soothing myself by letting bits of other movies run in my head. Mostly scenes of vigorous activity--gunfights, car chases, Leatherface with his chainsaw. Actually, more than anything else, (500) Days of Summer made me want to watch The Departed. Cathartic head-shots galore!
One big problem I had with the movie is that the main character is such a worm. His little sister tells him, "Don't be a pussy." Someone should have told the filmmakers not to make him such a pussy. Always flopping on his bed and sighing and making a sad-face. My God. The scene early on where they're outside the karaoke bar and she asks him if he likes her and even though he's infatuated with her he hems and haws and says "Yeah... um, er... as a friend... er, um..." is where I really checked out. That's it, over, I'm not interested in a character who's such a fucking pussy he can't even say that he likes the girl when she asks him outright if he likes her, when the screenwriters have thoughtfully declined to place any obstacles in his path or give him any reason not to act on his feelings. Because in real life of course, that would be the end. Whether it's in romance or anything else, you have to take an opportunity when it presents itself or you don't deserve it in the first place. But of course because she's a Manic Pixie Dream Girl she wordlessly approaches him the next day at the copy machine and kisses him and floats away. At that point it's just: Okay, done, over--I'm mentally checking out. These characters don't live in any universe I need to pretend exists.
* My roommate Rachel made an interesting argument yesterday that Diablo Cody was given the Oscar as a "fuck you" from the industry to the writers after the writers' strike. "Oh, you'll go on strike and shut down production and send us into a panic? Then fuck writing, we'll give your award to this novelty hack!"