I had high expectations for Juno because of the wonderful things I have heard about it from everyone. I saw it with my sister after she got it on DVD. The fact that Diablo Cody, the woman behind Pussy Ranch (which was first at www.pussyranch.net, then moved to http://blogs.citypages.com/dcody/, http://diablocody.blogspot.com/, and now blogs at MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/diablocody), was writing a film after her book (which I have yet to read …) was exciting because she is edgy, funny, smart, and strong. I had such high expectations, but it was ultimately a bit of a disappointment.
I mean, yes, it’s funny and it’s not preachy (thankfully!), but there are a few things that the film completely misses. For starters, Paulie Bleeker – the father of Juno’s baby – barely even seems to know that his sperm helped create life. Juno tells him but doesn’t ask that he participate in taking care of his responsibility. When he asks if he should come to Juno’s ultrasound appointment, Juno tells him that he shouldn’t waste the donuts he bought to share over a movie. And later in the movie, she tells Bleeker that her parents aren’t going to tell his mom so he’s safe from getting in trouble. I understand that this illustrates Juno’s independence and willingness to take responsibility for her irresponsible actions on her own, but it presents an unrealistic perspective on the situation. The truth is that unprotected sex takes two people and Bleeker should have taken responsibility for the fact that he got his best friend pregnant. If anything, he should have been an adult enough to tell his mother himself and insist on participation in the pregnancy. Anyone with enough balls to get someone pregnant should have enough balls to take responsibility for his actions.
The other major flaw that I saw with the movie was Juno’s treatment at school. Most high school kids will treat a pregnant peer cruelly (at worst) or make her a type of celebrity for her pregnancy. Juno’s pregnancy seemed to have minimal impact on how people treated her at school. It’s not as easy to be a pregnant teen as Ms. Cody would have you believe. And though I feel the difficulties should have been addressed more, it wouldn’t have had to make the movie less funny or too preachy – it just would have made it more realistic.
Maybe it’s a generational difference, but I feel like the movies that were this popular when I was in HS had a bit more substance than Juno. I can’t really even think of a movie from my youth that compares in topic and tone, but I also can’t help but think that if it had been done then, it would have emphasized consequences a little more. From where I stand, I see plenty of HS and college kids that don’t understand the idea of responsibility and/or the fact that a person’s actions always incur consequences – some unintentional, but nonetheless real. I think, in a way, Juno assumes that this understanding of responsibility and consequences is present already and doesn’t need to be looked at, but I see a different world than that.
Overall, the movie was cute and funny, but it was made truly endearing by Ellen Page’s presence. I highly recommend that if you want to see what Ms. Page is capable of and experience an awesome film, please rent Hard Candy. It’s truly disturbing and suspenseful … one of the best roles for a young lady ever. But let me stress this – IT’S VERY DISTURBING. There. Done.
Let’s hope Diablo Cody’s next movie, Jennifer’s Body (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1131734/), is more substantive than it’s description promises thus far. I have faith that Ellen Page’s future work will be smart and edgy. I can’t wait!