Sunday, 10 August 2008

Juno

Lowdown: A pregnant teenager expose the dysfunction around her.
Review:
Since it came out to the cinemas towards the end of 2007, Juno became one of those films you only hear good stuff about. Most of that stuff said that Juno is one hell of a comedy that's just a must watch - for whatever it's worth the film has even won an Oscar and had multiple nominations - so when Juno came out on DVD and I could finally watch it I didn't wait long before renting it.
Juno tells the story of Juno, played very well by Ellen Page whom I don't really recall seeing before. Juno is an independent teenager living with her father, her stepmother and her stepsister. Yes, as expected, they're a dysfunctional family.
The story starts with Juno finding out she's pregnant. The would be father is clueless; the option of abortion does not appeal to Juno because of the nature of the abortion clinics; and thus Juno decides to have the baby and let it go for adoption to this couple she finds in a newspaper ad. We discover the pair, Jeniffer Garner and Jason Bateman (rekindling their cooperation in The Kingdom) have issues of their own, but Juno helps them make the most of things. Juno also opens up to her own family and wins their cooperation. The film then follows the events that take place up until shortly after the birth itself.
Up until I got to watch Juno I was under the impression this is a comedy, and a good one at it given the reviews I read. I beg to differ, though: while Juno has some comedy in it, nothing in it managed more than a smile. No, in my book Juno is a drama. But it's not what it may seem to be at first; this is not a story about the tragedy of a clueless girl getting herself pregnant while she's a teenager and how her life got broken as a result. Instead, Juno is the story about a resourceful teenager which gets herself unintentionally pregnant but instead of losing herself she uses her wits to fix up all of the dysfunctionality issues around her. As evidenced through the film disposing of the abortion option way too quickly, the pregnancy thing and the baby are just the tool used by the film in order to show how a girl can sort up those around her.
Now for the trick question: did I like Juno? Well, the film failed to inspire me. Sure, the story was nice and witty; but the film failed to capture me. Try as I may, I just couldn't identify with the the events taking place. I can't really pinpoint my problem; could it be that the film is too American for me to identify with the culture on display? Probably, but I strongly suspect that the biggest problem is that Juno is too "Generation Y" oriented and I'm just not compatible with the Y state of mind. To quote Danny Glvoer, I'm too old for this shit.
On a positive note, I would like to mention J. K. Simmons who appears as Juno's father. The guy's more familiar as Spiderman's Daily Bugle editor, but my point is that he's an excellent comedian with a great sense of timing.
Annoying scene: Generally speaking, the pregnancy side of things is well portrayed in Juno. However, the film does revert to the classic giving birth film cliches, such as "step on it dad" when Juno's due to go to the hospital (speed is probably the worst thing at that time, and there's definitely no reason to hurry), then cutting to the classic two second "push - push" scene followed by a baby popping up in a much more active way then they do in real life.
I know I'm being harsh here, but these scenes hurt the rest of this pretty authentic feeling film for me.
Overall: I appreciate Juno being a 3 stars film, but I disliked it enough to give it 2.5 out of 5 stars.

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