One of the most interesting things I have ever read about Juno is that it is a movie that cannot escape what it is because of the genre attached. I read this before watching it, and assumed this meant that Juno would try and be unconvential and experimental in it's storytelling. Which is not true. Juno is never trying to not be a film. It's kind of predictable, and kind of cliche in a couple of moments. It also is self-aware, intelligent and quite funny. Just because a movie use a different beat to the scenes does not mean the movie is trying to spit into the face of film history. Why some people thought it was trying to change everything (and walked out disappointed, I do not know). Seriously need to start reeling in our expectations of the "indie" genre.
The most impressive aspect of Juno is how well, and often how subtley, it contrasts the somewhat flat handling of the subject matter to the actions of the teenage protaganist. While the movie, on one hand, is about kids screwing up and giving a child up for adoption after deciding not to abort, and the script flows to its natural conclusion, it also reminds the audience that it is funny because Juno isn't our daughter. Paulie isn't our son. But they are children. They like slurpies and tictacs and they like having their mom do their laundry. And they are parents of a child to be. We blend both aspects together (the funny and the tragic). Everytime you start to settle in to Juno's antics, you get jolted out a little by the next scene in which she reacts like a kid to something outside of her emotional stability. The doses of real-world moments work well and keep the whole thing flowing, stopping it form being a pastiche of itself, a wayward Lifetime movie of the week.
It is also aided by great actors all around. J.K. Simmons is a a scene stealer, and he's not the only one. Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman play the contrast to Cera and Page, as the adults who will get the child. Both are as self-focused as they are unfocused, stilted teenagers themselves, just with more money.
The movie's message - pro-life, pro-choice, feminist, traditionalist - is going to be debatable, but I like to think of it as pro-choice. And it's about living up to your responsibility level. And if the guys are all reactionaries to the primary actions of the movie, supplied by females, then that's ok. Plenty of movies showing the opposite have been filmed.
This is a Good movie, and I suspect younger females (15-25) will find it to be a Great one. Even if they don't get the Wizard of Gore reference.
Written by W Doug Bolden
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