Thursday, February 7, 2008

Juno

I mentioned yesterday that There Will Be Blood had a particularly inspired soundtrack, quite possibly the best of 2007. I bring that up again today because, if there’s one glaring, irritating flaw to mar an otherwise classic film, it’s the frankly atrocious songs by Kimya Dawson that are strewn about the film like land mines strewn about Afghanistan, only more cruel. Her songs seemed designed with the sole aim of being kitschy, and I hate her so much for this.

But onto the rest of the film. The film follows a 16 year old high school junior named Juno (Ellen Page), who learns the unfortunate news that she’s gotten pregnant. After briefly considering (and rejecting) an abortion, she instead decides to have the baby and give it up for adoption, and finds a couple played by Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner who desperately want a child of their own. There’s a few twists and turns along the way, as there are in any good movie, but after summarizing all of There Will Be Blood yesterday, I think I should stop right here.

There’s been a lot of backlash against this film for having the nerve to be popular, largely centered on two general areas, both foolish. The first, and by far the most abundant, complaint is that Juno is too clever and funny for a girl her age, with the presumption that not only are all teens complete idiots but that the movie would be much better if the characters in it were all dull and tedious. I personally found her quirkiness really charming, and furthermore she is clearly using humor as a defense mechanism throughout the film, constantly joking in every stressful situation she’s in because it’s easier for her to do that than to actually deal with such major problems. This is shown by how much less joking around she does later in the film, when she’s gotten more of a handle on things. The other general complaint is that the film is somehow pro-life or outright anti-choice, which is just retarded. Being pro-choice does not mean you want every last pregnancy to end in abortion, though frankly, when I see a child in a movie theater or restaurant I can easily see how one’s mind could wander to that path. All it means is that abortion is an option, and since her first thought was to get one, it clearly was. Trying to hijack the film into being part of your political statement just makes you look like an ass.

Anyway, outside of those two weak complaints the film just sparkles. The adults in the film are a real treat, as they show a great deal more dimension to them than the parents in most teen movies do (think of the one-note adults in any John Hughes movie or any movie made by one of his successors). Both Juno’s parents and the couple hoping to have her baby come across as fully realized, intelligent people (I particularly loved her father, played by J.K. Simmons). I’m a little disappointed that Jason Bateman and Michael Cera never had any scenes together to give us a small AD reunion, but that’s a small quibble overall. This is a smart, funny, touching film, and while I don’t know about it being Best Picture worthy (of the three nominees I’ve seen, it’s the weakest), it certainly deserves all the attention given to it.

Now if only they could re-release it with those atrocious songs changed.

Rating: ****

1 comment:

Patrick Roberts said...

i assumed Juno was directed by the same guy that directed Knocked Up because it's about an unexpected pregnancy, and Michael Cera stars as Juno's boyfriend (he was one of the goofy kids from Superbad, a close relative of Knocked Up), but it turns out this is not the case... all in all the movie had in interesting/unique style