Thursday, February 21, 2008

time for another movie review

It is much more difficult, I find, to praise a movie than to pan one. I guess that is true of most things, actually. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Juno earlier this week with Julie. It was just what we expected it to be, and that is a good thing.

Juno is a modest little film, but that is not to say that it doesn't have some interesting things to say. As you probably already know, it is the story of a pregnant teenager who decides to give her baby up for adoption after she is unable to go through with an abortion. The movie follows her from her third pregnancy test (she tells the store clerk that the previous test result looked more like a division sign than a plus sign) through telling the baby's father and her parents, finding adoptive parents, attending school with an ever-expanding waistline, forging a relationship with the childless couple she has chosen, shedding tears in her hospital bed after giving up her newborn son, and finally, returning to the normal life of a sixteen-year-old.

This may sound odd, but what I liked about this film was all the things that didn't happen. Juno and her boyfriend weren't forced to get married. Her parents didn't disown her - or even chastise her. She didn't have a skeezy relationship with the man-child whose wife desperately wanted Juno's baby. She didn't have a car accident. She didn't miscarry. She didn't change her mind and keep the baby. Just like in real life, there weren't any shocking plot devices to change the course of the story. I liked that.

The actors were excellent - none of them struck a false note throughout the entire film. Ellen Page was outstanding as Juno, but I also liked J. K. Simmons as her dad. I recognized him as Dr. Emil Skoda from many episodes of Law & Order, of course. Well, I could just go on and mention each of the actors by name, but suffice it to say they were all pitch perfect. The dialogue was clever and smart-alecky, but didn't sound overly witty or artificial. Julie recognized much of the music in the sound track, and although it wasn't familiar to me, it seemed to fit just right.

Is this movie the best picture of the year? Probably not. However, it was entertaining and human and real, and watching it was a perfect way to spend a cold, damp February afternoon. I recommend it.


Julie said...

i strongly recommend that everyone go see juno.

well, if you like well-developed, realistic, believable characters, witty dialogue (and appropriate silences), nuanced performances, and a carefully framed story, you should go see this movie.

if you want melodrama, moralizing, action, romance, or teen comedy, this is not the movie for you. there's plenty of that crap out there already, though, so go watch one of those.

incidentally, i don't buy that this is a "chick flick," even though any plot summary (pregnant teen who, with the support of her cheerleader best friend and stern but loving stepmother, gives up her baby to a deserving but OC barren suburban woman) tends to make it sound like one. i think juno is an anti-hero anyone can get behind, and the movie is neither too feminist nor too feminine.

i feel like it's more a "day in the life" type movie, kind of like napoleon dynamite (with all its awkward real high school kids), only the lead character happens to be pregnant.

i don't know. now that i've talked it to death you probably don't want to go see it. but i've seen it twice now, so i guess you can skip it if you want...

anne mancine said...

So, you liked it, then?

Kristy said...

I think it's a pretty sad commentary that this sort of movie, one where the pregnant teen mother doesn't fall victim to any number of helpless cliches, is novel and rare, and I'm not quite sure what would be wrong with a movie that was "too feminist."

anne mancine said...

I told Jules I thought this was a chick flick, and as you can see, she disagrees with me. I believe the point she was trying to make about it not being "too feminist" was that, for the most part, that would rule out most men going to see the film, and that would be a shame.

Julie said...

well, sometimes when one is arguing a political point, there is a natural tendency to go to the far end, and ignore the gray area or middle ground of life. "pro-choice" of course means what it says--that it's a woman's choice whether or not to get an abortion.
still, the emphasis tends to be on women who claim their right to do so, not those that choose against it. the former makes the pro-choice argument better, and the reluctance of the latter group could be seen to make an argument more for the opposition. this movie does not flinch from the reality of the latter.

mostly i liked that it was an option--and an easily accessible one at that--for juno. she had the space to make a personal decision about it, and her decision was not necessarily what we would "expect" in her situation.

Kristy said...

Just because one chooses an extreme political position does not mean that he or she has ignored gray areas or reality. Not everyone will chose a centrist position and if you think about it, these outliers with more extreme political views are the ones who clear the path for many to take a less controversial and much more comfortable position in the middle. It's so unfortunate that the center has moved so far right in the past thirty or so years that I'm thankful for anything that will tip the scales further to the left.

While it is interesting to explore the life of a person who decides not to have an abortion, It's sad to me to think that a movie in which a young woman exercises a choice over her own body without negative or cliche'd consequences would be considered too feminist or heavy handed commentary. I lament that the backlash of post-feminism in the 80's and 90's has caused the daughters of America (many of whom would rather be reading cosmo, listening to the latest gossip on Brittney Spears and remaining completely oblivious) to regress so far from caring about equal rights for women that an extreme left position would include a woman's right to choose. Have they forgotten the trials of their mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers? I haven't forgotten that I'm still making a fraction of what my male predecessor made and I still recognize that male privilege is in full effect due in part to the complacency of many women. This aggression will not stand, man.

*gets off soapbox and burns bra*

Julie said...

*is sorry she had an opinion and opened her (figurative) mouth*

Kristy said...

And here I thought we were having a lively political debate - what fun would that be if we all agreed?

Julie said...

i'm not really into "lively" when it means inflammatory, and i don't really like "political debate" when it's code for over-dramatic grandstanding.

for some reason i find that those things actually hinder informative discussion rather than helping it along--just one of my personality quirks, i guess.

Kristy said...

Aside from my impassioned disagreement, I'm still wondering how a movie could be too feminist and, as such, what would be wrong with that. Conversely, I'm also wondering why we don't say movies are too masculine. Usually we say they're action-packed, violent, or too sexual, but never do we say too masculine.