October 5, 2009

The Curse of "Juno"

This weekend, Ellen Page's first starring role since her breakout in Juno hit theatres... with a thud. The film, Whip It, is a girl empowerment feel good movie and marks the directorial debut of Drew Barrymore. But alas, the audience has spoken, and it appears they really weren't hankering for a roller skating movie. Whip It made just $4.9 million this weekend and opened in sixth place.
Sixth place is also where Juno scripter Diablo Cody's follow up feature, Jennifer's Body opened. It appears that audiences love affair with Juno was a passing fancy. It's dissapointing to me that both of these films failed because they were projects I had been looking forward to because they are movies that were written, starring and directed by women; a disturbingly rare commodity in Hollywood where the notion of gender equality in the workplace is much more of a rumor than a mandate.

While I haven't seen Whip It (I was in New York when it screened at the Festival) I'm still surprised to see it finish out of the Top Five, particularly when Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs finished in third in its third week of release (after back to back first place finishes.)

Both of the Juno follow ups represented stories of girl power (though in very different packaging. Jennifer's Body, because of its hyper-sexualized Megan Fox in kilt and a low cut top movie poster, seemed to be aimed at squarley at men, but the story is literally about a maneater.) It's incredibly rare that Hollywood bothers to make films for women, and when they do, the women that are targeted are much older. It's a shame to see two films in a row - written, directed and starring females and featuring the talents of women like Diablo Cody and Ellen Page - be so thoroughly ignored at the box office. It doesn't really bode well for more films aimed at that audience, and the last thing we need is an excuse for clueless studio executives to make more movies aimed at 14 year olds. 'Cause I think we've got that covered.

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