Filmgoers who caught Jim Field Smith's political satire "Butter" at the Toronto International Film Festival have been making a sport of guessing just who some of the characters in the Midwestern fable are supposed to represent.
Is Jennifer Garner's smug butter-carving competitor Laura Pickler a stand-in for Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachmann? (Harvey Weinstein, who is releasing the film, certainly seems to be inclined toward the latter.) Is the 11-year-old African American girl competing against her in Iowa supposed to be a 2008-era Barack Obama?
Movie fans, though, may find some real-world familiarity in another character -- namely, Olivia Wilde's Brooke, a brash stripper who attempts to beat Laura at her own game. As you watch the film, she seems, it may slowly occur to you, an awful lot like Diablo Cody. (The Weinstein Co. isn't releasing any official photos yet of Wilde in the role, but some fan sites have posted some.)
Cody is of course the voluble and self-mythologizing screenwriter behind movies like "Juno" and "Jennifer's Body." The similarities between her and Wilde's character are subtle but unmistakable.
Like Brooke, Cody was once a stripper and is covered in upper-body tattoos. Like Brooke, Oscar winner Cody has a certain swagger and also sought to reinvent herself in another discipline that doesn't involve pole dancing, in the hope of landing a big prize.
Oh, and Cody's real first-name? Brooke.
Screenwriter Jason Micaleff acknowledges he had the "Juno" writer in mind--sort of.
"Slightly inspired by Diablo (who is thrilled and excited to see it, I hear)," he replied in an email when we put the question to him.
Micallef said that, perhaps unlike some of the more barbed portrayals of U.S. politicians, he intended the Brooke character as homage. "I was intrigued by the idea of a wickedly smart stripper," he said. ("Butter" is slated for general release next year, but if you can't wait that long, it will get a brief one-week run in theaters at the end of October.)
Micallef also wrote that the character carried a larger meaning too. "Brooke thematically represents anarchy, which is why, in a time when everyone hates the government, audiences love her so much."
He then offered that the character had her own Twitter address (@BrookeTokyoRose)--an act of self-branding that might befit, well, Diablo Cody.
--Steven Zeitchik in Toronto
Photos: (Top) Olivia Wilde poses for a portrait to promote the film "Butter" at the Toronto International Film Festival on Tuesday. Credit: Associated Press/Carlo Allegri
(Bottom) Diablo Cody at the Academy Awards in 2008. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times