Saturday, June 13, 2009

Tonight's Movie: Juno (2007)

This weekend was my turn for a film from the Netflix queue, and I decided to try JUNO, the Oscar-winning 2007 film about an unwed teenage mother who gives her baby up for adoption.

There were things I really liked about JUNO and things I strongly disliked. It was ultimately worthwhile, but I watched it with a finger on the fast-forward button to zoom past some scenes I could do without.

First, my dislikes: as many reviewers noted at the time, Juno is just way too hip and self-possessed for a young girl dealing with unplanned pregnancy. Perhaps such girls exist, but the character didn't seem grounded in reality. And if she was so smart, how could she be so dumb?

I also didn't care for the scenes showing Juno's sexual relationship (especially with a girl that young, it was just...ugh) or the scenes with Juno and the prospective adoptive father, Mark (Jason Bateman, once a child actor on LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE). I also wasn't wild about the film's graphic art or some of the trashy-looking sets, such as the bedroom designs for Juno and her friend Leah (Olivia Thirlby).

Likes: Allison Janney (THE WEST WING), who plays Juno's realistic, supportive stepmother, made it worth sitting through all the things I disliked. She was absolutely marvelous. Kudos also to Jennifer Garner as Vanessa, the adoptive mother -- she has a couple beautiful scenes -- and J.K. Simmons as Juno's admirably calm dad, who was "born for heating and air conditioning." (I did wonder if his calm also indicated a certain detachment which helped lead to Juno's situation...)

I also enjoyed the outdoor locations; the movie was filmed in British Columbia. And I liked that the film's plot, in and of itself, was a pro-life story.

Roger Ebert loved the movie; here's his four-star take on it, for another point of view.

Parental advisory: It may have a PG-13 rating, but I believe this would have been rated R when I was a teen. I suggest parents approach it as an R film and screen it themselves to determine if it's appropriate. Setting aside the aspects of the movie I found distasteful, viewing it together could be a springboard for good discussions between parents and teenagers.

JUNO was directed by Jason Reitman. It runs 96 minutes.

The movie won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. It was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress (Ellen Page).

JUNO is available on DVD in a single-disc or two-disc edition.

Update: By coincidence, Ivan of Thrilling Days of Yesteryear also saw JUNO this weekend and has posted his thoughts.


Blogger Dana said...

Hi Laura,

I re-watched Juno last week and again I felt her character's lingo & dialogue felt unnatural as she was forced to be extra hip & savvy. It really distracted me.

I was a bit creeped out by the budding relationship between her and Jason Bateman and was relieved it was cut off. Best line (after she met him at his house and it got awkward and "real" and she knew it wasn't right) and she goes home and the dad asks where she had been and she says, 'dealing with things way above my maturity level'. Spoke volumes and I think the stark reality of her situation culminated at that point for her.

10:22 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Great to compare notes, Dana! I agree completely with your comments.

It was an unusual film in that it had stuff which normally would have had me turning a movie off, and then there were some moments which were completely lovely, like when Juno runs into Vanessa at the mall.

Best wishes,

10:43 PM  

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