2007 Movies: “Juno” and “Sweeney Todd”

Because everyone loves it when I pan their favorite movies. And to celebrate canceling my Netflix subscription. For now.

Saw these two movies last week.

I have this theory as to why critics always like movies like “Juno”. It’s this: movie critics are nerds. Nerds like to watch movies about other misfits. Even if the main character is too smart to be interesting (let alone believable), the plot is facile, and the jokes are slow in coming, they like seeing “themselves” (but much better looking) on screen. It’s misguided: just because we don’t see a lot of *this type* of character in movies that doesn’t mean that a movie that shows *this type* of character is good just because it features *this type* of character.

Ugh. I didn’t actually hate it as much as all that, just that I’d give it two stars and yet somehow it got nominated for Best Picture. Travesty. It’s the nerds’ fault. The same people who (used to) love all those Wes Anderson movies. The ending was arbitrary, the tension non-existant (you knew she was going to give birth, that’s not tension), the characters unbelievable and flat (but an *unusual* kind of flat), and the soundtrack was so very, very precious. Heck, the whole movie was precious. Ugh.

Maybe I *did* hate it as much as all that.

I liked “Sweeney Todd” a whole lot better. I’d seen the recent (2006) Broadway revival with Michael Cerveris and Patty LuPone and came to the (borrowed) conclusion that it was The Only Musical That Ever Needed to Have Been Made. The movie wasn’t as good as the stage show (how could it be?), but it used the medium well to make itself its own thing, IMHO.

There were only two missteps for me: (1) the weird hair and (2) Helena Bonham Carter. I guess both of those are completely the fault of Tim Burton, who (a) wants every movie to look like Halloween and (b) didn’t want to tell his wife she’s not a very good singer. Every time I knew one of Mrs. Lovett’s songs about to start I felt myself cringing. Her voice was so wispy — she sang like a ghost. Maybe that completed the Halloween motif for her husband, but couldn’t they have fixed her voice in post-production somehow? It was especially awkward when she was singing alongside any of the other actors, all of whom had bigger, better voices than hers. Even the kid. Ach, ja.

And I didn’t quite get the makeup and grooming that seemed intended to make Anthony look like a hermaphrodite. But he sang well and ultimately — heck, why not a hermaphrodite?

Other than that, it was good, angry, vicious fun. I’d read a review or two complaining that the movie was so *dark* that it took all of the humor out of the musical. Those reviewers were wrong (and, more importantly, I Am Right). I’ve never laughed more at seeing someone get their throat slit than I did watching this movie. No joke. The gore was over-the-top laughable. All of the spots that were supposed to be funny were, in fact, funny. There were also parts that were, for me, better on screen than on the stage (“Have a Little Priest” and “Down By the Sea” fared better on the big screen — and were funnier — than in the stripped-down recent Broadway production).

And I still don’t think “The Departed” was the best movie of 2006.



  • Chris Bigelow

    Canceling Netflix?!?! Whyever for?

    My experience was that I enjoyed watching Juno more than Sweeney, even though the Juno heroine’s dialogue was so unrealistic. Sweeney left me kind of cold, but I liked Helena about as well as anyone in the film, tell you the truth. My parents, you should know, loved Sweeney. I’m a little out of sync with them in other ways as well, such as that I slightly preferred “There Will Be Blood” to “No Country for Old Men,” while my mom was the reverse (can’t remember if my dad expressed his pref).

    I have gorged on the new summer releases and have not come away with any home runs. Iron Man was OK, maybe better than Spider-Man or most any other comic book movie–but it’s still a comic book movie. I found the new Indiana Jones movie more palatable to watch than the atrocious Star Wars prequels, but it still has many missteps. I probably liked the new Narnia the best of the three recent ones I’ve seen, although it too was not a homerun, more like a second-baser. I like the Narnia movies because of the religious themes that come through yet it’s also pretty good D&D-style fantasy. I find myself really wanting to go back and watch Lord of the Rings, which I’ve seen only once in theaters.

    I’ve been following your other manly man pursuits, your building projects and your war novel…

  • bkdunn

    I figured once I hit four months between watching movies, it was probably time to kill the ‘flix. Plus I’m mad they haven’t made a deal with Microsoft yet to offer their download service via XBox Live. And I’ve decided it’s time to start just saying “no!” to physical media.

    I think Sweeney Todd is the best story ever for people who are pissed off at everything. Maybe you’re just too even-keeled to identify with it…?


  • telkontar

    You can watch old movies downloaded directly. I’m preferring B&W movies these days.

    I did love both Narnia flix; never seen the 2 in the post and just deleted Sweeney from my queueueueu.

    Now we wait for a comment by someone without the middle initial “K”.

  • bkdunn

    So you read my comments about how *good* Sweeney Todd is and, as a result, remove it from your list…? Interesting.

    BTW, can I just point out that that on 24 May I criticized Netflix for not being available on XBox Live, but that by 24 July they’d announced it would be?

  • andrea, beth, brit

    Brian, we all like the movie Juno. We’re all misfits, including you. Well, we’re just hanging out in Provo, and we came across your website. Its quite fascinating, caught our interest. Hope all is well.

  • bkdunn

    Heckuva username! Sure, we’re all misfits, but I’m such an outsider, I don’t even relate to other outsiders. So, you know.