Movie Review: Juno
A few months ago I posted about the (then) soon-to-release film, Juno. Over the holidays, I had the opportunity to see it and now that it’s been nominated for four Oscars I thought I’d better write a review.
The story opens with high school junior, Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page), downing a bottle of Sunny D in order to generate enough pee for a third pregnancy test ‘just to be sure’ her ‘eggo is preggo.’ And that’s the spirt of the film in a nutshell. It approaches teen pregnancy, abortion, and adoption with equal parts honesty and irreverence because it’s not a film about any of those things. It’s not a political piece. It’s not a religious reel. It’s a comedy in which nothing is sacred â€“ not sex, nor pregnancy, nor abortion, nor adoption, nor marriage, nor you, nor I. It’s funny and it’s honest and as an adoptive dad, a husband, and a Christian, it was kind of refreshing to sit back and laugh at some things I often (and for good reason) take very seriously.
What gives Juno it’s charm aren’t (primarily) the performances, solid as they are. What really brings this story home are the tensions within the relationships. Here are a few examples of what I mean:
- The birth family is very supportive of Juno and yet expressively disappointed in her.
- The adoptive couple is suitable and yet alarmingly dysfunctional.
- The birth father is uninvolved, yet deeply in love with Juno (and a remarkably likable character).
The script, the direction, the acting, and even the soundtrack make war with every cliche you could imagine. It’s this kind of spunk that makes an Oscar nominee out of an otherwise after-school-specialesque story.
What is particularly interesting is the portrayal of the men in this movie. From birth fathers to adoptive dads to grandpas, men are often overlooked in adoptive stories. I think that the strong male presence in this film enabled me to appreciate the awkward and altogether beautiful relationship between the adoptive mom and the birth mom. It was like all the sarcasm made me comfortable enough with my masculinity to tear up a little and say, ‘wow â€“ that’s beautiful.’
So, I liked it. But will you? I don’t know. The film has great potential to offend. Some of the dialog and commentary is kind of, well â€“ mean. My mom says that the terrible thing about sarcasm is that there is always a hint of truth in it. That is certainly the case here. Watching this movie was little bit like watching the class clown make fun of every one at the lunch table. He’s hilarious until he points to you. If you can take a joke (and little bit of brutal honesty), it’s worth it. If not, well – maybe you shouldn’t eat with that kid.