on April 22, 2008
Well, I've seen the film Juno. Some say it's the greatest film they've ever seen, others despise it. What do I think?
I liked Juno. It was rather light and fluffy, to be honest. Anyone who is expecting a realistic portrayal of high school life and teen pregnancy will be greatly disappointed. The film is a little different than what you would see in a mainstream film, but not much. It's not edgy, it's not out there, and it is desperately trying to be hip. Juno's dialogue made me wince, like someone who is trying to prove how "out there" she is with her witty quips. A lot of the dialogue felt forced, which diminished its impact for me. Juno's character would not date (and never have sex) with someone like Michael Cera. More than likely he would be the best friend who really loves her while she dates a jerk. They would never get together. The plotline of the jock who supposedly loves Juno is silly and completely underdeveloped. Jennifer Garner's character was contrived as well.
But there are some good things about the film. I really like Jason Bateman's performance and character. I think he gives the best performance in the film. Many have made hay of Juno's knowledge of music and movies outside of her age bracket, saying it's not realistic. That isn't true. Speaking strictly for myself, when I was a teenager, I was listening to Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett, and ELP, which weren't popular at all during that time. I also had a friend of mine who was 7 years older than me who I hung out with. He got me into bubblegum music, which also wasn't from my time bracket. So this does happen, and probably a lot more than people realise. Juno's father and stepmother were pretty decent characters, far from the caricatures that permeate indie films like this. They were a little too pat at times (especially the father), but overall their dialogue was better than know it all Juno's. I liked the soundtrack too.
The film is not a realistic portrayal of teen pregnancy, in fact, it makes it look kind of fun and hip. It's a typical indie film that's quirky enough so that the audience thinks they're seeing something really different, but in fact they're just seeing something that's a little different from Hollywood fare, but not much. We're not talking hard boiled Bergman or Breillat here, just a cute film that isn't boring or tedious. It isn't painfully bad like Knocked Up was, but it still isn't a masterpiece.
on April 14, 2010
Juno, the tale of a smart teenager who finds herself pregnant and decides to give her baby up for adoption, features some very strong acting by the leads and supporting cast. The story is well-structured. Juno's parents are particularly strong, fairly believable, and likable. The boyfriend, with his corpse-white legs in his hideous yellow running shorts and what-just-went-past-me? expression, has an authentic sort of dweeby charm. So I gave it three stars.
But . . .
The script tries way too hard to be cool. I'm shocked that it won an Academy Award. If people in movies talked the way people talk in real life, movies would be incredibly boring, but this script is so filled with clever remark after clever remark that it gets tiresome in a different way. It's as if the whole thing is made up of things you wish you'd said an hour after you're out of the awkward situation.
I did not find Juno's character to be like any teenage girl I've ever experienced, and I've been one and raised one, so I'd claim at least a modicum of expertise. She reminded me of Calvin in Calvin & Hobbes. While things about her are teenager-like, just as things about Calvin are little-boy-like, she is not recognizable to me as a real teenager any more than Calvin is recognizable to me as a real little boy. The script rather than Ellen Page's performance is at fault. Based on Juno and Hard Candy, Ms. Page is a reason to see just about any movie.
The cute little indie songs are extremely annoying.
Finally, you can't really talk about the movie without talking about the pregnancy. Juno made an admirable and intelligent choice given her circumstances (closed adoption with the baby going to a loving home and Juno going on with her journey to adulthood unencumbered by an infant). Nonetheless, the movie cheated for the ban-all-abortion contingent by making the abortion clinic horrifically gross and grungy, and even more so by making Juno's delivery look like it took about five seconds and she barely broke a sweat.
Worth a look, but I wouldn't buy it or rent it again.
Juno is a cute movie, with some offbeat comedic hooks, maybe that's what drew the Academy and critics alike to it. But for all its' uniqueness and for the hour and a half of harmless entertainment that it provided, I didn't really see anything that was worthy of a nomination. Was it an off year for movies in 2007 or what ? Juno is an interesting look at teenage pregnancy through the lens of Juno Mcguff (Ellen Page) who has just been impregnated by her friend Pauley Bleaker (Michael Cera) and now has to figure out what to do with the baby. This movie doesn't appear to take a stand on abortion even though Juno's character makes certain statements at an abortion clinic.
The story turns when Juno finds the perfect couple Mark and Vanessa (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner.) only to discover that their no more perfect than anyone else on the planet as Mark confesses the impending divorce to Juno before talking to Vanessa. My feeling is that Mark's relationship with Juno is an underplayed phenomenon. As Juno navigates the turbulent waters of pregnancy, she also confronts the permanently altered though not destroyed relationship with Pauley and being hated by Pauley's family. I felt disconnected to the movie because I was never allowed to get invested in any one of the characters. It was just kind of a story that moved from a to b with any real emotion or feeling.
The bottom line is that Juno is high on story, but low on characterization because other than Vanessa, the characters don't really lose anything. At end of the movie, Juno and Pauley ride off past the track team as though nothing has changed, even though Juno had his baby and made the difficult decision to give the baby up for adoption. These rather wooden characters and a lack of basic human emotion detract from what could've been an otherwise engaging premise.
Juno is a film which tackles the issue of teenage pregnancy. Once teenager Juno discovers she is pregnant, she immediately tries to figure out what to do. Does she try to have an abortion, or does she keep it? Or does she give it up for adoption? The story revolves about her emotions in dealing with her pregnancy and bringing a life into the world. She tells her best friends, and seeks advice, and once she decides to give it away for adoption, meets the couple and tries to figure out if they will be the right parents for her child. While the film has heart at times, and good morals at times, over all the story's dialogue seems artificial and forced, and it seems to waver between wanting to be a drama and a comedy, and successfully being neither.
Personally, the story wasn't very gripping or interesting, and part of this is due to lack of believability. Most films do not have to be realistic because they are solely based on entertaining, but if you are going to make a film about a serious issue like teen pregnancy or abortion then at least make it somewhat authentic. Many scenes are understated, and you have to second guess whether this is how parents would really react. Consider the scene where Juno first tells her father and mother-in-law that she is pregnant. To use a word that Juno uses herself, her parents were way too "cavalier" about her news and her decision to have an abortion, not being riled up in the slightest and seemingly giving her the "OK" for it. Not only that, but she can even go to the abortion clinic alone. Also, the scenes with Juno and her friend Paulie are way too lackadaisical, and the idea of Juno actually falling for someone who is her polar opposite and has no chemistry with is a bit ludicrous. (If so, why wasn't there any chemistry built between them in the film?) I found Juno's character to be somewhat unbelievable as well; she has some elements of being a teenager with her smart aleck attitude and witticisms, but then she goes around being worldly and sophisticated also.
The cute, hip dialogue gets little tiresome after awhile as well. Juno seems to be a film screaming "Look how indie and hip I am!"
True, Juno's being up for last year's Best Picture really set the bar for expectations. Perhaps the public ate it up. (However, this award rarely is given to exceptional films anymore). I watched Juno once, and once is enough. It's not horrible, but there is nothing that makes it exceptional either.
on August 1, 2009
and that will cover any logic gaps and plot holes in the story. The movie starts down one path and changes lanes halfway through as the story goes from being a dark comedy about teen pregnancy with Juno looking for a guilt free way to unload her unwanted baby while dropping "ain't I so jadedly world wise" knowing references and cynically detached remarks then the movie changes to a soapy chick flick about relationships focusing on the Loring's problems and Juno's realization that perfect families don't exist.
The story has several plot threads running through it that are left as loose ends. It's believable that a 16 year old could be interested in music beyond hit du jour, but to have her claim to be into "the raw power of the Stooges" while singing folksy emo or whatever the style is called doesn't make any sense in the context of the movie. Is her ragging on Sonic Youth & preferring to listening to the Hoople while Mark is getting cold feet supposed to represent maturing on her part? Also Juno's as hip as it fits the plot of the moment, she knows Soupy Sales, but not Bob Marley? Overall the movie seems to be trying to make some profound statement that never quite makes it to the surface and leaves me wondering exactly what point they were trying to make.
on March 11, 2009
Don't get me wrong, this is a good little movie - emphasis on "little." If I'd seen it on Lifetime Movie Network, I might say it was better than average. But a 2007 Oscar nominee for Best Picture? You've got to be kidding! I would be far more forgiving of Juno's flaws had I not been subjected to the overblown hype surrounding this movie. Now I feel obligated to knock it down a few notches. How it got nominated over much more deserving films (like Sean Penn's "Into the Wild") is a testament to the genius of the marketing and PR folks.
Juno (Ellen Page) is a sarcastic, precocious 16-year-old who graciously humors the clueless adults in her life. She finds herself accidentally pregnant by a friend (Michael Sera) she seduces for apparently for no other reason than idle curiosity. If she's as smart and mature as we're supposed to believe she is, how come she's never heard of birth control? And why aren't her parents upset? The dialogue is reminiscent of a sit-com: rapid-fire, oh-so-witty, full of hip pop-culture references... in other words, totally unbelievable. In one scene Juno name-drops Soupy Sales, yet in another reveals she has never heard of Bob Marley. Oh please! The exchanges between Juno and her best friend are particularly unrealistic and annoying. I wonder how many real teenage girls crack one-liners during the "Oh my god I'm pregnant!" conversation. The most believable character is Vanessa (Jennifer Garner), the would-be adoptive mom. There are shades of gray in her portrayal, and thankfully, she did not have to read lines of dialogue that sound sound like they belong on 30 Rock.
Juno is amusing enough though, to keep the viewer entertained till the end. But that is the extent of it's value. The outcome is predictable, the relationships all tidied up in a feel-good way, and the teachable moments, though lacking preachyness, are clichéd. Rent the movie to fill an idle afternoon, but don't go out of your way to see it. Better yet, see "Into the Wild" instead. Now that's movie-making!
on April 20, 2008
Obviously by now everyone has heard the hype surrounding this movie. Unfortunately, the hype has assisted my lukewarm rating of this movie. A scant three minutes into the movie and one has to wonder how Diablo Cody won an Oscar for writing such fake dialogue.
The lead character, Juno, is in a pharmacy purchasing a pregnancy test. Her interaction with the clerk was the stuff you can only find in a movie. No one talks like they do. The clerk and Juno both spoke like they were from another planet. Unfortunately, we're subjected to little more than this type of dialogue for the first two thirds of the movie. It was as though Diablo Cody watched Quentin Tarantino movies and then decided to try her hand at writing sarcastic, quick-witted banter. She has a very long way to go. One-liners don't make for conversation.
I feel that most of the hype about the writing was due to the fact that it was different. Not that it was really good, but because it is different than typical Hollywood fare. Different doesn't equal good here. Nothing is more ridiculous than when, upon being told by Juno that she is pregnant, her father comments that he didn't think the boy who knocked her up "had it in him". The ho-hum manner that everyone takes to the situation is very unrealistic and distracts from the story. No one seems to take the matter seriously. Not her father, not the boy's family, not the boy, and not Juno herself.
So how did I end up giving this movie three stars rather than one? Well, the story found its way in the last half hour. I found Little Miss Sunshine to be like this as well. Most of the movie was rather dull, but the ending was so good that it made up for the rest. Juno has a similar quality. We finally see resemblence of humanity when Juno finds out the perfect couple she chose to adopt her baby aren't the perfect couple she thought they were. We finally see some realistic interaction between father and daughter. We see a woman who cannot have her own children distressed over the uncertainty of the adoption process. You can feel her uneasiness. After Juno gives birth, her boyfriend visits her in the hospital and there is a real tender scene between them. Alas we see Juno as a vulnerable child having to deal with the weight of having a baby and giving it up. I found the final scene to be rather charming as Juno and her boyfriend sit and play guitars and sing a tune together. It's still unrealistic, but nevertheless it was a nice finish.
There are better movies about intelligent, self-aware, teenage girls who struggle as misfits to find their calling. One that comes to mind that is better written and superbly executed is Ghost World. It stars Thora Birtch, Scarlett Johansson, and Steve Buscemi. The movie isn't for everyone, but if you're interested in a Juno-type movie, Ghost World is far superior. Ghost World
on June 25, 2015
I am giving this 3 stars, not because I didn't like the movie, but because I felt misled by the listing. I like having a blue ray or DVD as well as a digital copy to view on Prime or other platforms (depending on which one it is set for ). I thought I would be able to use the digital copy in my Amazon or other online streaming programs. This is NOT the case. It comes with another disc which allows you to download a digital copy to your computer. I do not watch movies on my computer, so I'm very disappointed. I wouldn't have purchased this if I had known I wasn't getting a truly digital copy that I am able to stream on different devices. I am not happy.
on June 2, 2008
I first heard about Juno when I read about its popularity at the 2007 Toronto Film Festival. The story, upon first read, about a smart-ass teenager who finds herself pregnant and faced with the challenge of how to handle it, did not impress me. It wasn't a storyline that captivated my imagination or my intellectual curiosity. So I wondered. Why did this film keep receiving adulation from just about every movie reviewer under the sun? Rotten Tomatoes had a multitude of positive reviews with a few negatives ones sprinkled in. I decided I wasn't going to fall for the media circus surrounding this picture and would wait for it to come out on DVD.
Now I have written screenplays before so I believe I can be quite critical from a screenwriter's standpoint given that I know what is involved when crafting a screenplay. Let's first review the movie:
Juno tells the story of a 16 year old girl, sarcastic, smart and a bit too cocky for her own good as she finds out right at the start of the film that she is pregnant after having casual sex with her highschool boyfriend, Paulie Bleeker. Once Juno finds that she's pregnant, she informs her best girlfriend and they discuss what exactly she should do. Juno then breaks the news to her parents. Her parents give her the OK for an abortion ( a tad too cavalier in my opinion). Juno attempts the abortion route but gets cold feet. She then decides to give her baby up for adoption. She places an ad in the local paper and identifies a lovely wealthy couple who want to adopt. Will things go smoothly for Juno? How will she respond once she gives birth?
For starters, this basic plot outline doesn't do much for me. I'm not intrigued by it and my curiosity has not been peaked. If I read the logline of this script it would not be one of my first reads. But let's begin to analyze this picture.
Now I realize that each and every family on this planet is different. Parents are not the same all over when it comes to their emotional reactions. Juno's parents know very well the sharp-tongued verbal antics of their daughter (mother shown is actually step-mother to Juno) so one would take that into consideration. However, the reaction by both parents to Juno's admission of pregnancy is so calculated and without serious emotion that it begs the question, what kinds of parents are these people and would they actually exist in real life or are they just a caricature created by screenwriter Diablo Cody? One has to seriously ask this question because once Juno decides to initially opt for abortion wouldn't she at least bring one of her parents to go with her? Juno ends up visiting the abortion clinic alone! What kind of parent would send their teenager alone to an abortion clinic to get an abortion? It begs all credulity! I bring this up because it strikes at the very premise of Diablo Cody's smartly penned dialogue. These characters are indeed fictitious with not a shred of relevance to an actual family faced with the challenge of raising a "know it all" teenager.
Once Juno enters the abortion clinic, the director tries to show how uncomfortable Juno is inside it by focusing on strange sounds the various people are making inside, (i.e. such as nail filing). The woman at the abortion clinic front desk appears to incongruous to say the least. No abortion clinic I've ever heard about or visited would ever feature such a character at the front desk. Again, this character was created by Diablo as a way to entertain the audience but at the same time "creep" Juno out from actually having an abortion.
Let's discuss Juno's boyfriend, played by Michael Cera. The on-screen chemistry between Michael and Ellen Page (who plays Juno) is good but nothing to write home about. This is mainly due to the meekness of Michael Cera's character. They are such opposites that again, it strains credulity to think that a sarcastic "know it all" like Juno would be attracted to such an introvert like Michael Cera's character. I'm not saying it couldn't happen but Michael's character is bland, boring and dull.
The two parents who consider adopting Juno's child, Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman, are played well and I don't have any real criticism for either character. Both actors perform well and the twist that Diablo Cody includes in their relationship provides for the drama that occurs later.
I've come to the conclusion that the reason why this film gained such popularity is two: People were delightfully stunned by the crisp, back and forth repartee between characters (courtesy of Diablo Cody's sharply penned dialogue); the overall fine acting by all of the cast; and finally, audiences like movies where everything is taken into account and there are no serious questions left to ponder. Juno nicely wraps up by the end of the film and you're left with nothing more to ruminate on. At least I didn't.
But as a screenwriter, I'm here to tell you that in cinema, if you want respect from a screenwriter, you've got to inject some plausibility into your screenplay! (Unless you're writing an action/adventure film like Rambo or a superhero film like Iron Man)
Juno, as a drama/comedy, has no plausibility. Audiences who saw this film were simply looking to be entertained and they did not approach this film with the background of a screenwriter. But great dialogue does NOT MAKETH a GREAT MOVIE. Great dialogue ELEVATES a good story. But I can't say that Juno is even a good story. I'm not sure what is "good" about it especially when it treats one of the most polarizing topics in the United States (abortion) with such triteness!
I've read interviews with Diablo Cody about how she came to write Juno, and what I found most interesting is that she focused more on the dialogue of her story than anything else. And in many ways, she had to! The story in and of itself, as it is presented on screen, is boring. It does not stimulate and it does not provoke. If the dialogue had fallen flat in this picture, Juno would not even have ranked a blip at the Toronto film festival. Now Juno COULD have been more stimulating a picture, if the issue of abortion had been delved upon much more in depth. But then that would have changed the point of the story. By avoiding the issue of abortion, Diablo make this film much more palatable to the movie going audience. She's no dummy!
In conclusion, if you are looking for light entertainment, then go see Juno. The dialogue is what makes this film. Yes, Ellen Page does a masterful job of capturing the character of Juno. I actually hope to see her star some day in better films than Juno as she is obviously a capable actress. Time will tell. What I took from this picture was that audiences like films where everything is resolved by the end of the story and the lead character rides off into the sunset. Audiences enjoy seeing films that don't provoke and merely entertain. Audiences want to forget about "reality" and see a film that describes another world far removed from the one they are living in.
on December 23, 2008
However, I will add a star because of Ellen Page's performance, although I must admit it took a while to take hold with me. The first fourth of the movie she came off as a 26-year-old smart-mouth instead of a 16-year-old. Maybe the dialogue improved; maybe I just got used to it. My wife urged me to rent this film and then wondered why. About one-third of the way through, I ask her if she thought anything was ever going to happen. She replied that she hoped so, but it hadn't to that point. The attitude this film toward teenage pregnancy was so cavalier as to be off-putting on its own. I guess they've never heard that it is the number one cause of poverty among women. The movie hardly touched on the powerful emotions that such an experience would create in a young girl. There was the inevitable put-down of the only person in the movie who made any sense - the ultrasound technician. The Hollywood elites apparently thought it mandatory to allow moral relativism once again to triumph over common sense. And by the way, the music throughout this movie was insipid. From the technical perspective, the blu-ray had excellent colors and was crisp throughout.