Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Double Header: Juno and I Am Legend

When Caryn and I were in college, we were great fans of the movie marathon. Planned the day before, we’d pick three, four, or even five movies to see in a day. Pulling this off required some serious forethought; we looked at start times, running times, accounted for previews and credits: it was awesome. We even found ways to work the system for free popcorn, bulk candy, and giant-sized sodas. Was this ethical? No. Were we poor but movie-lovin' college kids? Hell yes.

This past weekend, Todd and I did an extremely modified take on the movie marathon and saw Juno and I Am Legend. There were no stolen, sugary treats in sight but, like any good marathon, there was wide spectrum of movie quality on display.

Juno, written by current It Girl Diablo Cody, tells the story of an unwanted teenage pregnancy with sass, obnoxiousness, and some unexpected warmth. What I loved about this movie was how well ensemble members played off each other, the snappy dialogue, and—very importantly—the lack of moralizing. And, frankly, the cast was a dream. With two, count ‘em, two, Arrested Development alums--Jason Bateman and Michael Cera--you know you’re off to a great start. Jennifer Garner, J.K. Simmons, and Allison Janney are also fabulous in their roles. The foundation and heart of the entire film, though, is Ellen Page. Seen before in the ultra-disturbing and nonsensical Hard Candy, I went in not knowing what to expect. She beautifully carried the story and emotions of this movie and is a real star in the making.

I Am Legend, on the other hand, is devoid of both ensembles and up-and-comers. Given that this is far more widely marketed, I don’t really need to do the whole summary part of the review. Just in case any of you live under a rock, though: Will Smith battles zombie-like humanoids as the presumably last normal human on earth. I give Smith a lot of credit for making such a solitary movie captivating. Interacting for most of the movie with only a dog, he really does one hell of an acting job. And I Am Legend does have a few good scares in it; I jumped more than once at the zombie attacks. Unfortunately, logic was apparently deemed completely optional by the creative forces behind this movie. The leaps of faith audience members are forced to make are just too much. And I Am Legend shared a bit too much with War of the Worlds in terms of resolution. I won’t say more for fear of spoiling the incredibly stupid ending for those of you who haven’t yet seen this. But anyone who has seen both will surely know what I mean. Thumbs down.


Veronica said...

We may need to loan you the book I Am Legend while you're up here next week. It's _so_ good, and the previews for the movie terrify me because I haven't seen a single scene in them that made me say, "Oh, that's the part of the book where..." It's like they took the general concept and then said, "Yeah, but let's make it an action movie!"

Tori said...

I may just take you up on that offer, Veronica!

Chocolat said...

Can you believe that I Am Legend grossed $77.2 million opening weekend and Juno grossed $1.4 million on 40 screens. Further proof in the decline of civilization.

Spooky said...

I'm sorry, what? Did you say zombies? I sigh heavily and despair of any chance that this movie might actually be based on the book it claims to be based on.

Zombies. Bah!

ellebee said...

Yay! I finally saw Juno and was able to read this post. I loved it too - great dialogue!