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Paradise

Year: 2013
Production Co: Mandate Pictures
Director: Diablo Cody
Writer: Diablo Cody
Cast: Julianne Hough, Russell Brand, Octavia Spencer

Like Paul Haggis in his heyday, it seems Diablo Cody's white-hot screenwriting light is already fading. After her second high profile project (Jennifer's Body) flopped so hard she's struggled to attract the same creative cachet she did in Juno.

This straight to video effort directed and written by her doesn't seem destined to turn the tide either. When young Christian woman Lamb (Hough) suddenly renounces God in her local Midwest church and announces she's taking her money and going to Law Vegas to really live, everybody's shocked.

Lamb is covered in burns for which she has to wear compression garments and take regular medication. They came after a plane crash that gave her a huge lawsuit payout, but the result of it has been that Lamb she can't believe God would make anyone suffer as much as she has. After feeling like a misfit for so long she decides to go and try to find if other people are as screwed up as her.

On her first night in Vegas she falls in with sardonic lounge singer Loray (spencer) and bartender William (Brand), who take her to the real spots locals go to show her the sights.

The night becomes an exercise in self-discovery for the eager but nervy girl as she makes new friends the likes of which she'd never have met in her old life, and Cody is smart enough to make some of it heartfelt and even sad, ruminations on womanhood and beauty jostling with jokesy set pieces and Brand's trademark banter.

At the very least it's a realistic portrayal of sickness and injury (something Hollywood's traditionally very bad at), but none of it amounts to very much.

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