First Jason Reitman comes up with a cute, funny and wrong movie that defends the tobacco industry called Thank You For Smoking and gets away with it. After this feat he comes up with a cute, funny movie about teenage pregnancy called Juno and the movie wins an Oscar and makes over $100M in the box office. What next Jason? A cute and funny movie about the Iraq war?
Don´t get me wrong, I enjoyed both Thank you for smoking and Juno because the acting was excellent and the scripts were very well written. The problem in my case and that of millions of parents of teenagers is that not only I had to give my three kids the “but smoking is still bad” talk after Thank you for smoking but I had to give a tougher “don´t try this at home” talk with my girls 15 and 17 who thought Juno was such an appealing character. After struggling with the incorrect moral undertone of Jason´s subjects at this point I prefer movies who are easier to deal with as a parent. Films like Knocked Up for example in which people who do wrong things (mixing drugs and unprotected sex) just look the part making it hard for my kids to identify with (although admittedly leading to poorer results as a movie). Jason Reitman instead specializes in portraying the most appealing characters who unfortunately also do very wrong things like preaching the benefits of tobacco and getting pregnant after a night of casual sex at 16. In Thank you for smoking and Juno, Jason Reitman went way pass his father as a movie director of social subjects (dad did Kindergarden Cop) into a new political area, one that is valid but thorny, namely that of showing people we like who do things that we don´t believe in. By now I think Jason is developing his own genre of political movies: how to make the public fall in love with what they (mostly) think it´s wrong. In my case it worked in the sense that I am very much against the tobacco industry and against unwanted teen age pregnancies and yet… I found myself uncomfortably enjoying both movies. Recently another movie who was neither cute, nor funny but probably better than Jason Reitman´s films had the same effect on me and that is the German film “The Life of Others”. The Life of Others, a must see, is the story of a “good” torture expert if you can believe that such person can exist. And yet it´s effective because in the world of grown ups we do learn to see that most bad people have something good in them and viceversa. But in the age of black and white sometimes…black and white is good at least if you are watching the movie with your kids and feel obliged to say something. But considering that Jason Reitman is not a teacher, nor a preacher but a movie director who likes to reverse engineer our morals I have a recommendation to make to him. I think his next feature should be about Diablo Cody the Oscar winner script writer of Juno. I am ready to watch the cute and funny version of the story of a stripper who became a writer who won an Oscar.
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