PARADISE // Diablo Cody has more than proven her worth as a screenwriter, with “Juno” and “Young Adult” under her belt, but taking on the role of writer and director may have been too far of a stretch. In her latest satire, “Paradise”, Cody’s paper thin veneer is almost hard to stomach at time, feeling less like a script written by an Oscar winner and more like one written by a college student. Following a paint-by-numbers narrative about a gorgeous young Christian girl named Lamb (Julianna Hough) heading to Las Vegas in search of debauchery after a plane crash leaves her “disfigured” and rolling in settlement cash, she denounces her religion and looks to experience life in all its glory. Lead by bartenders played by Russell Brand and Oscar winner Octavia Spencer, neither feel truly invested and come off more like delivering a favor than actually furthering their careers. Hough tries her best and possibly with some veteran directing, this could have been some semblance of a satire, but instead, “Paradise” breathes mediocre and just toeing the line of straight-to-DVD. With all the respect I can muster for Diablo Cody, I ask her to stick to the pen and stay out of the director’s chair.

[Directed by Diablo Cody] [PG-13] [86 min] [18 October 2013]   05twohalf-stars

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