"Hi, I'm calling to procure a hasty abortion... "
Directed By: Jason Reitman
My rating: 4/10
Juno tells the story of a tough, sharp-tongued 16 year old who falls pregnant after an awkward sexual encounter with her best friend Paulie. After chickening out of an abortion, she decides to donate her baby to a suburban couple.
The negative points of Juno pretty much overshadow the positive points but the sum of its parts present a film thats average enough to warrant two stars. For a film that managed to garner such universal praise, Juno is one of the most irritatingly standard American indie filcks I've seen in a long time. As a fan of the American Indie film, I understand the marks of the genre. Slow pace, oddly framed shots, clever banter, etc. However, Juno seems to have taken the Idiots Guide to Indie and raped it for every ounce of its worth.
Cutesy acoustic singer-songwritery soundtrack, blasse treatment of the topical issue of abortion and obligitory animated title sequence are all represented here. The thing that makes Juno feel more arrogant than other movies is its horribly overwritten dialogue which makes everyone sound like they belong in some ghastly mix of Dawson's Creek and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The pomposity of the dialogue departs slightly as the film goes on but it is so jarring at the start that it is hard to forgive the characters later.
The positive thing about overwritten screenplays is that the main characters are all given really nice arcs. Particularly the characters of the Lorins, who are seeking to adopt Juno's child. At first they seem like the typical boring suburban couple; he's likeable, she's not but over the course of the film, perceptions shifts on the couple and their fears and cowardices are uncovered. Unfortunately some other characters, such as the baby's father, Paulie (Michael Cera) are considerably less fleshed out, leaving Cera with little else to do than fumble about awkwardly, without ever receiving a redemption or any character development.
Although entertaining, and sometimes affecting this is a film to be watched only if you can tolerate pretentious teens and only if you're not easily offended by yet another so-called potrayal of disaffected youth. Surprisingly, this is the follow-up to Jason Reitman's wonderfully accomplished Thank You For Smoking which was directed like a pro and which was as sharp a film as one could hope for from Hollywood. Sadly this film seems like a step backwards, or perhaps more pointedly, a perception of "indie" from a director whose natural talent and style lies in Hollywood.
On the plus side, there are some good laughs and some interesting observations on the realities of love and companionship which are way more mature than what the run-of-the-mill teen movie would usually represent. However, if you're anything like me you may just hate Juno too much by the end of the movie to even want her to find happiness.
- Charlene Lydon 7/1/08