I just went to see Juno and decided to post a review. I know, two posts in one day. I may break the Internets if I keep this up.
In case you haven’t heard of it, Juno is a movie about a teenager who gets pregnant and decides to make an adoption plan. It is intelligent, witty and laugh out loud funny. It’s a lot quirky and off-beat and soooo not PC. Diablo Cody’s has put together a wonderfully snarky script and Jason Reitman’s direction is as skillful as in his previous offering. If you like Kevin Smith movies – minus all the fart jokes but with the dick jokes – “pork swords” – that’s all I’m gonna say – you’ll probably like this movie.
Warning for PAPs, especially if you are adopting domestically: bring a sense of humor and lot of tissues. Because, damn! push a few more buttons, would ya? Several awkward moments that will be familiar to us all and there’s at least one genuinely offensive line that would have had me yelling at the screen if I were at home. However, it actually does fit in the context of the movie so just go with it.
The eponymous character of the movie (played with mad-skills by Ellen Page) reminds me a lot of myself in high school. She’s a bit geeky, tomboy-ish and oh-so-mature and above all the bs of her peers. Although she is way more witty than I could every have hoped to be at that age.
After learning she is pregnant (“There it is. The little plus sign is so unholy.” ) Juno initially decides to seek an abortion (leading to one of the most so-wrong-but-so-funny lines of the movie – “Hi, I’m calling to procure a hasty abortion…”) However she finds she cannot go through with it so she decides to make an adoption plan. She and her friend pick a couple out of the Penny Saver ads, generating several more wrong-but-funny lines. After making arrangements to meet the couple (the Lorings) and their lawyer, she breaks the news to her father and step-mother and presents the whole matter as a fait accompli. Yet another side-spittingly funny but fabulous scene.
I’m certain there’s going to be a lot of controversy about this movie – a lot of folks in the adoption community will probably hate it – because this is not an entirely realistic picture of adoption. At first it all comes together way too easily: she makes her decision seemingly with no angst or heartbreak, finds the “perfect” couple immediately, keeps the birth father out of it all, likes the Lorings from the beginning and – glory be! – she wants a closed adoption. And in the end she seems to move on with her life almost as if it all never happened.
But along the way you do see the scared, aching teenager break through the facade of detachment Juno presents to the world. Although she is opting for a closed adoption it is clear she wants some sort of emotional connection to the family she is placing with. She genuinely wants the perfect home for her child and is devastated when she realizes there is no such thing. And when she does go through with placement, it is clear how much she is hurting.
The film also spends some time with in a few other key issues in adoption. When the ultra-sound technician is clearly relieved that Juno is placing, Juno’s step-mom takes the tech to task for assuming that the child will be better off being adopted. We also see some of the awkward nature of the birth mom/adoptive mom dynamic – Juno’s insensitive comments to Venessa Loring along with Venessa’s obvious desire to respect Juno’s space but NEED to be involved in the pregnancy are captured well without beating you over the head. Even the too-predictable feeling-the-baby-kick moment is handled with sensitivity. I think they could have more explicitly dealt with the birth father. In the context of the film, you can understand why she leaves him out of it, but there are only passing references to his involvement in the adoption.
The film left me wondering what this child is going to go through a few years down the line when/if he decides to search for his birth parents. But I don’t think that the writer and/or director were concerned with that issue.
The ease with which Juno’s folks accept her placing their grandchild strains credibility in my book but I like that they are supportive and not overly judgmental. One wishes that more parents could be so understanding and rational about their children’s decisions. There are a few moments when they make it clear they are disappointed in her (“I thought you were the kind of girl who knew when to call a halt” says Dad.)
Overall it’s a great movie – an interesting take on a very sensitive issue. And while I think there is much left unexplored, the writing is brilliant, the characters worked for me and I really, really enjoyed it. It’s already won a ton of awards and will probably win a bunch more if there is any justice in the Universe.
So, tell me what you think. (But play nice: this is my house, remember?)