"Cute”. That seemed to be the word for Juno. Almost every person
I had talked to or heard talking about the movie inevitably, at one moment or
other of their unanimously positive review, had fallen on the word “cute”. I
couldn’t help but be intrigued by the widespread agreement of so many different
people. Why did 20 year old Californian/Russian Jewish boys, 50 year old Italian
mothers and everyone in between spontaneously use this same
word? I decided to watch the movie and see if I were overwhelmed by the
cuteness as well.
Not so much…
The Plot: A 16 year old girl
(Juno MacGuff, played by Ellen Page) gets pregnant and decides to give the
child up for adoption to a seemingly lovely couple (Mark and Vanessa Loring,
respectively played by Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner.) However Mark gets
cold feet, divorces and disappears without wanting anything to do with the
baby. In the end, Juno and Vanessa complete the transaction on their own.
The Twist: Mark, who at first we
think is a good guy with dreams and passion, similar in many ways to Juno
herself, turns out to be an insecure mid to late thirty year old who wishes he
was still twenty. On the other hand, Vanessa, whom we thought was a
manipulative bitch who would have been a horrible mother, is actually a loving
and caring person who will surely be a terrific mother for the poor merchandise
sitting in Juno’s belly. What a twist!
The Moral: Don’t judge a book by its cover. It’s
OK to be weird, everybody is. Blah blah love people for who they are blah blah.
I’m not sure what the most
annoying aspect of the 91 minutes was. Maybe the trendy,
reading viewers surrounding me, who were well instructed that this was
a “hip and hilarious” movie that would make them “laugh deeply” and did
everything they could to prove the
reviews right, even if that implied laughing at the most predictably
one-liners that usually didn’t consist of an actual joke, but rather
of some unusual word such as “shenanigans” or “homeskillet”.
Or maybe it was the fact that
this supposedly “independent” movie was produced by Fox Searchlight pictures
among others and has already grossed, in the US alone, $110,263,000 as of Feb.
3 2008. I was unable to find the marketing cost for this movie, but I’m
positive that it was much more than the reported 7.5 million of production cost
given that every single time I’ve turned the TV on in the past couple of months
I was forced to suffer a “Juno” commercial.
It might also be the forced
grunge/alternative feel of the entire film (2 or 3 scenes between Juno
and Mark consisted in nothing else but an exchange of
movie titles, comics and bands,) which was hypocritically squashed by
suburban soccer-mom-like pro-life message, proudly paraded by
babies want to get borned! All babies want to get borned!” I would like
to take a moment and go over
Juno’s reason to not get an abortion: Su-Chin tells her fetuses have
lady at the clinics counter offers her a flavored condom, and the
smelled like a dentist’s office …
On the other hand, it might have
been the irrelevant absurdities scattered throughout the movie that were
bizarre, simply for the desire to be bizarre, not because they actually meant
anything. I.E.: Every now and then Juno pretends to smoke a pipe … The track
team seems to be running in the background of almost every outdoor shot … Juno’s
step mother has an obsession with dogs … her step sister is named Liberty Bell …This
seemingly random absurdity wasn’t even particularly funny. If you are
interested in Absurdity that is actually pretty funny and even has some meaning
within the context of the story; check out any episode of Will and Grace.
Particularly the scenes between Jack and Karen.
It could perhaps be the transparency of the
Oscar nominated writing, which seemed an exercise in using the Thesaurus.
Or maybe it can be the fact that this film has been actually nominated for four
Oscars: best film, best director, best lead actress and best screenplay. Keep
in mind the Coen Brothers comedic masterpiece “The Big Lebowski” was nominated
for: nothing… The list of comedies much superior to “Juno” which got less
recognition is long and includes movies such as: “Good Morning Vietnam” “About
Schmidt” “Animal House” and “The Blues Brothers”.
Ellen Page: Best Actress. I
understand the role calls for: super cool girl who handles teenage pregnancy
like a forty year old mother of seven. But I didn’t see a single muscle in her
face move until she was giving birth. She cried twice. Which were the two only
moments she didn’t deliver the lines with a flat monotonous tone. If the total
lack of mobility was there for comedic effect (you know, tell a joke with stone
cold seriousness and the joke is even funnier) then check out David Hyde Pierce
in his role in “Frasier”, which he played for 11 years not 91 minutes. But he’s
one in a lot. Ellen Page is not. If she deserved a best actress nomination,
then Michael Cera (Juno’s boyfriend and father of the unwanted child) deserved
a best supporting actor nomination because, frankly, he was much more
entertaining to watch.
Diablo Cody: Best screenplay.
These are some memorable quotes from this fantastic magnum opus…
I could like, have this baby and give it to someone who like totally needs it.
should look in the PennySaver.
They have ads for parents?
Yeah! 'Desperately Seeking Spawn.'
Would you like a free condom? They're boysenberry.
No, thanks. I'm off sex right now.
My boyfriend wears them every time we have intercourse, it makes his junk smell
are some memorable quotes from the television sitcom “Friends”…
would date her but there is a big age difference.
Joey: Well think about it when you're
Ross: I know, she'll be 80 and it
won't be such a big difference.
Joey: No. What I was gonna say is
when you're 90 you'll still have the memory of what it was like to be with a
figured after work, I'd pick up a bottle of wine, go over there, and try to…
Chandler: Hey, you know what you should
do? Take her back to the 1800's when that phrase was last used.
ran for 238, 30 minute episodes. That’s 7140 minutes. Juno was 91 minutes. The
quality of the dialogue between the two is virtually the same…
Jason Reitman: Best Direction. I
don’t even know where to begin with this one. I didn’t notice any outstanding
artistry in the storytelling. In fact, it was pretty bland and conventional.
During every scene change I could picture the script: Fade out. Cut to next
scene. Fade out. Cut to next scene. … He obviously didn’t do much with the
actors because they all sounded and acted pretty much the same: flat, and there
weren’t any mesmerizing shots or sequences.
Juno: Best Film. Well, I figure
that’s simply a trickling effect of the fact that the screen play, the lead
actress and the director were nominated. To think that it’s in the same list of
nominees as “There Will Be Blood” and “No Country For Old Men” is baffling, to
say the least.
Why people like Juno: It is incredibly one dimensional and simple, like
any Hollywood blockbuster action movie.
However, it lacks the action part, therefore, your regular moviegoer thinks
it’s deeper (whereas all that it is, is much cheaper to produce.) Because it is
so simple, the same moviegoer needs to put absolutely no effort in following
the film and understanding it. Conclusion: Our moviegoer feels like he’s just
followed and understood a “film” as opposed to the usual action movie he
watches, therefore that “film” must be a good one. In fact, not only did he
follow it, but he was actually able to somehow predict the twists of the
“film”. Basically Juno is a crowd pleaser. It makes the viewer feel good about
himself because he thinks he has been able to follow and successfully predict a
“film”, as opposed to a movie. That’s unheard of: a movie, sorry, “film” that
makes you feel good about yourself and your mo… ”film” predicting abilities?
The icing on the cake is that the same moviegoer doesn’t recognize any of the
names of the actors (except for those who follow the gossip columns and know
about Bennifer.) All the pros of an action movie without any of the cons.
My suggestion: Turn your TV on at
any time of the day or night and you will be sure to find one of the following
shows – Seinfeld,
Frasier, Friends, Will and Grace, Everybody Loves Raymond, Cheers, Roseanne – airing.
Watch it; you’ll get much more out of it than spending 11 bucks