Friday, January 16, 2009

I Can't Tell The Difference: The Woody Allen/Diablo Cody Effect

Yesterday I watched Woody Allen's "Melinda and Melinda". Because it came out back in 2005, instead of 1975, Woody Allen doesn't actually star in the film. Or does he? It's come to my attention, perhaps a little late, that Woody decides to use Woody-substitutes. In "Melinda" squared, Will Ferrell steps into the elderly Jew's shoes, delivering his instantly recognizable neurosis and adorable one-liners. In "Match Point" the Woody role is filled by Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Meyers is an Irishman, which covers up some of the more obvious Juda-isms found in American actors, but the speech pattern, and content inside the speech, is straight from Woody's mouth.

It's almost as if Woody Allen has discovered a way to speak from beyond the grave. Just... behind the camera. I'm normally a proponent of seperating self from character, because you can get a little preachy, or lose an objective perspective or whatever when you write strictly from your own mind, but with Woody Allen his presence is powerful enough, and wit sharp enough that I can't see why he shouldn't create these stand-in characters now that he's grown too mature for the roles.

Unfortunately there is another writer who does the same: "The Satan" Cody. From the second Juno, from "Juno", opened her mouth, I knew I was hearing into Diablo Cody's head. Juno comes across as a 30-something in a 16-year-old's body for a reason: Diablo can't seperate herself from Juno. Juno is Diablo, Diablo is Juno. What irks me about this that doesn't irk me about Woody Allen doing the same is that Diablo manages to get preachy. The segment devoted to jock's actual love for nerdy girls, the sequences of Juno serving the grossly older people with her Gilmore Girls-quick tongue, and just the out-and-out air of being the hipest thing in the room all reek of Diablo Cody.

While Woody Allen uses his characters to be effectively funny, Diablo uses HER characters to be effectively annoying. I'm sure if Diablo's smart-alleckness was at all as clever as Woody's I wouldn't have any problem with her. But it isn't. It points out the folly of her writing abilities. The other night I watched the pilot for 'The United States of Tara', her new Showtime series, and was met again by an obnoxious Diablo doppelganger, this time being Tara (Toni Collette). I respect Collette far more than Ellen Page when it comes to actresses, so it truly and deeply disappoints me to hear Collette spouting the drivel of Diablo Cody.

What was the point of this article? Well, I suppose to vent some bottled up steam on Diablo Cody, and honor Woody Allen. The latter? Terrific writer. The former? God awful writer. And both for the same reasons.

- Eric T. Voigt, Likes Me Some Woody

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