Posted by: ckckred | January 4, 2014

Juno

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It may be easy now to lash out at Juno, the 2007 indie dramedy that became a surprise hit and big contender at the Oscars.  Since then, its critical acclaim has considerably declined.  The film feels derivative of the work of Wes Anderson and hasn’t aged well, with many of its cultural references being somewhat out of date.  Still, Juno remains a very enjoyable and likeable offbeat comedy, if a bit overrated.

After her best friend Paulie (Michael Cera) impregnates her, teenager Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) questions whether she should keep her child or not.  After counseling with her parents (Allison Janney and J. K. Simmons) and her other friend Leah (Olivia Thirby), Juno decides to give off her baby to adoption to a yuppie couple played by Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman.

For much of its runtime, Juno devotes itself to the teenage angst of its eponymous protagonist, who is in constant conflict with her school and friends.  Paulie is embarrassed by Juno’s pregnancy and soon shuns her and Bateman and Garner soon find their commitment is going astray.

For such a sensitive event such as teenage pregnancy, Juno’s political stance is very mild.  While it caused some controversy in 2008, it didn’t spark much public outrage you’d expect a blockbuster movie about a girl questioning abortion would.  Perhaps that’s due to the film’s subject, which isn’t so much about underage sex as it is about teenage life, and director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody make clear they’re more interested in the second.  Juno’s greatest strength is its ability to reveal the frustration of high scholars in a day-to-day life.  It’s relatable to anyone who has gone through high school and has dealt with stress in their social life.

But Juno feels a bit like it should have spent more time on the production board to straighten out its ideas.  I would have preferred to have a film more strung to reality, as Cody and Reitman feel the need to crank up sentimentality and wishy-washiness in some scenes, not to mention to overall quirkiness grows old after some time.  As a Best Picture nominee, its status was only semi-deserving; it certainly isn’t in the same league as No Country For Old Men or There Will Be Blood and Zodiac and Once would have been more suitable in the category.  However, Juno still possesses much of its charm and likeability and while overhyped, it’s an affable watch.

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Responses

  1. Interesting review. I have never managed to see this. That you suggest it hasn’t aged well lessens my anxiousness to change that.

    • Thanks! It’s fun but was probably overhyped. I loved it when I first saw it, but a second viewing revealed more of the movie’s flaws.

  2. I think you’re right, nobody talks about Juno these days. I remember its surprise popularity with the critics during that year’s award season. I like the movie, don’t love it. I thought Page was very good but I’ve never been a fan of Cera.

    • Thanks! It’s likable, but not perfect. Page was particularly good.

  3. I’ve yet to catch this but I’ve heard it’s a great film.

    • Thanks for the comment. I’d recommend it, though I think it’s a bit overhyped. It’s fun but I don’t see it as great as most made it out to be.

  4. Oddly enough, I feel the opposite way.

    When I first watched Juno about 4 years ago, I couldn’t at all understand its acclaim (bear in mind I was only 14-15 at the time). No when I watch it I feel a sort of sadness about the situation, like the whole movie confuses its emotions because of the current social climate.

    We’re not really asked to think about the whole abortion aspect of it because it’s become quite common-place today, so you’d be correct in saying we like to talk about the struggles of teenage life within this film.

    I’ve never found the film particularly funny (just as I don’t Wes Anderson’s films), but I think the film is great at conveying a simple story with an optimistic ending.

    • Nice point. I really did like what Reitman and Cody did by focusing in more on Juno’s life rather than the pregnancy and they deal very well with teenage issues. It didn’t quite ring as strongly for me for a second viewing, but it has a strong take on contemporary adolescence.

  5. I think “affable watch” is as fair an assessment as you can make about Juno. Not quite as awe-inspiring as everyone seemed to think it was. Nicely reviewed :)

    • Thanks! I agree. It’s no NCFOM or There Will Be Blood, but it’s a good movie overall.

  6. I’d like to re-watch this, based on what you have said here. I saw it at the cinema but can’t really remember the details – just the main idea of the plot and that Ellen Page was good.

    • I remember seeing it about a year or so after it was released and enjoyed it. A second viewing revealed more of the film’s flaws, but it’s still decent. Thanks for reading.

  7. I thought it was a very well-made film. I haven’t seen it for a few years now but I remember thinking it had a strong script and performances and handled its subject matter really well.

    • I last saw it a few years ago, but a second viewing made me think more in retrospect. It’s very well acted and made, but I didn’t feel it was as great as everyone said.


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