Entertainment :: Movies

Paradise

by Kevin Taft
Contributor
Tuesday Nov 19, 2013
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Academy Award winning "Juno" writer Diablo Cody steps into her director’s shoes with the drama/comedy "Paradise." Also written by Cody, "Paradise" centers around a religious and conservative good girl named Lamb (Julianne Hough) who is in a plane crash that burns two-thirds of her body. After a year of healing, she renounces God and goes off to Vegas in search of experiencing worldly pleasures. There she meets a bartender William (Russell Brand) and lounge singer/waitress Loray (Octavia Spencer) who reluctantly take her on a "wild" night that includes drinking, looking at dirty magazines, zip-lining, and befriending a prostitute. All the while she discovers what she really wants out of life and learns to accept herself for who she is, scars and all.

After watching "Paradise," you will wonder if the acclaim showered on Cody was premature. After the bland "Jennifer’s Body" and the love it or hate it "Young Adult," Cody’s "voice" is starting to feel one-note and quite frankly, a little stale. The one thing that makes the film watchable is the cast. Julianne Hough is a wholly likeable and charming actress. Oscar Winner Octavia Spencer seems to be slumming it in a film that seems beneath her, yet she makes the most of what she’s given because of her God-given charisma. Brand plays his usual smart-talking ad-libber, although he is (thankfully) toned down a bit as he can be a bit of an annoyance. Holly Hunter and Nick Offerman are completely wasted here as Lamb’s super-Christian parents in scenes that add up to barely five minutes of screen time.

To be fair, this isn’t a travesty, and it goes down easy. So if you catch it on cable, you might find some pleasure in it. There’s just no need to buy the Blu-ray because you won’t watch it more than once.

Special Features include a so-so commentary by Cody (who apologizes for "talking too much" - huh?) and four brief mini-featurettes that focus on Brand, Cody, Hough, and Spencer talking about their characters.

"Paradise"
Blu-ray
$29.97
www.rljentertainment.com

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to ’Star Wars’ and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg. He can be seen in the flesh on the weekly PBS movie review series "Just Seen It."

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