Saturday, January 19, 2008

juno

Aili and I saw Juno last night, a quirky comedy written by Diablo Cody (famous in the blogosphere for her candid journal, the Pussy Ranch) and directed by Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking). We both enjoyed it and recommend it, although if you feel like waiting till it comes out on DVD, you're not missing anything on a big screen. If you don't want to know anything about the plot, don't read any further and just take our word that it's funny, imbued with indie spirit, and full of endearing characters and clever dialog.

The plot centers around a sarcastic, intelligent high school girl (Juno, played by an almost too pretty Ellen Page) who gets pregnant and after briefly considering an abortion, decides to carry through the pregnancy and give up her baby for adoption to a hyper-yuppie couple (Jennifer Garner & Jason Bateman). Both Aili and I were turned off at the beginning of the movie by the unrealistic, slangy, too-clever dialog of Juno and her best friend - but if you give it some time, the movie stops trying to impress you and just does. For me, the turning point was when they successfully transformed Garner's character from a freakish perfectionist and desperate wanna-be mommy into one worthy of sympathy. You suddenly realize that the movie really isn't saying anything (significant) about teenage pregnancy, specifically, but is instead trying to comment more broadly on parental responsibility. A responsibility that not only Juno lacks, due to her age, but also Bateman's character lacks due to his refusal to mature. It's an effective theme and turns an otherwise Napoleon Dynamite-esque movie into something more interesting and thoughtful.

The movie features a fair amount of peripheral "indie" content (that while currently trendy is still great) like comics, horror flicks, and cool music (The Melvins and Sonic Youth are mentioned several times, and Juno's three favorite bands are The Stooges, Patti Smith, and The Runaways). This is one of those movies that wouldn't have been nearly as emotion-provoking without its soundtrack, which is excellent from beginning to end. Aili was thrilled to see and hear that Kimya Dawson of The Moldy Peaches was the music director for the film, and the soundtrack includes several of her childlike, silly, but strangely powerful songs. To read an interview with her, go here.

For those of you that got off on the dark humor of Welcome to the Dollhouse, or even Ghost World, it's possible that Juno will be too light and fluffy. There's hardly any teen-angst here, as Juno seems amazingly mature and confident, has a trustworthy and dependable best friend, a dorky/cool "boyfriend" that loves her, and a supportive family. She's not particularly angry or depressed about her world or humanity. But I think that after seeing that plot-line all too many times, the bouncy happiness of Juno was simply refreshing.

2 comments:

  1. i saw juno and was a bit more disappointed than your review. was a bit overhyped by the time i saw it last week, which i'm sure greatly influenced my sentiment. i saw a review that read " A 16 year old Janeane Garofalo gets pregnant. The end." I fall somewhere in between there and Hassan's review.

    overall a solid movie, but with too many contrivances, especially in the dialogue. liked the music refs, esp to 'the melvins', as well as the proclamation "sonic youth is just noise." kind of funny. potentially, a great movie. just looked like it had gone through too many edits. maybe should have been longer. the boyfriend in the movie is great, and was great in 'superbad'.

    incidentally, i just found out 'Diablo Cody' was a year behind me in my high school. just looked her up (yes, i still have my hs yearbook, so fuck you. and no, unlike MQ, i do not beat off to pics of tom brady every night). trippy.

    exited about '10,000 BC'. interested to see how it turns out/your review.

    that crayon shit is great. really.

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  2. well, given that 10,000 BC is being directed by the same guy who did Independence Day & The Day After Tomorrow, i'm expecting something pretty fucking awful. the previews show evidence of massive civilizations, which doesn't even make sense historically (we had just figured out how to grow frickin' lentils) unless the subtitle is "10,000 BC (give or take a couple thousand years)"

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