Juno (2007)

Rated: PG-13
Length: 91 minutes
Grade: ACAA=A
Budget: $7.5 million, no, that’s not a misprint.
Box Office: $143 million US, $82 million Intl, $ million DVD

Directed by: Jason Reitman, whose only full length prior work was writing and directing Thank You For Smoking.
Written by : Diablo Cody, a blogger and former stripper in her screen-writing debut.
Starring: Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Olivia Thirlby, JK Simmons, Allison Janney, and Rainn Wilson.

A sarcastic non-conformist high school girl gets pregnant the first time she has sex. After deciding not to have an abortion, she finds a young couple to adopt the baby, and the rest of the movie follows her through her pregnancy and a variety of poignant moments.

Entertainment Value: A
There’s a reason this movie made $143 million. Coming in what some have termed “the year of the pro-life movie,” this is an outstandingly entertaining film with fascinating characters, real-feeling events, and lots of quick humor. It’s a great illustration of the uncool new cool with an important message as well.

Superficial Content: C
Drugs/Alcohol A, Sexuality C, Violence A, Language C, Illegality A
PG-13 is just right. The language is at the upper limit of that range, and the situation itself is certainly an adult one…in a sense. Obviously, sexuality is a big concern, but this is a totally non-erotic presentation of sexuality and discussion of it, although there are some discussions of sex and sexual imagery.

Significant Content: A
This is the most ridiculously pro-life movie ever. Here’s the reason why: it makes giving up a baby for adoption look cool by having a sharp, intelligent, likeable girl choose it. There are plenty of family difficulties and disrespectful behavior, but that one point is so strong that it outweighs all other concerns. Also, though he isn’t the focus, Jesus gets mentioned a few times, and not in a negative way either.

Artistic/Thought Value: A
This movie is genius because of the familiar, unashamed, almost casual way that it brings extremely controversial subject matter in front of the viewer. In one movie, Juno has done more for showing truth on a range of subjects than all the hundreds of hours of angry talk could do. It’s this mark of hitting just the right note that makes this movie so powerful. One thing I also particularly loved about this movie was that it’s the first high school movie I’ve seen that I found realistic, at least mostly. Also, the soundtrack was perfect, so good that I almost want to buy it. I did think that it was a bit unlikely that anyone her age would know so much about so many different cultural things. But this movie engages you emotionally and makes you laugh while really presenting a memorable and insightful look at real life.

Discussion Questions:
~Given that this movie depicts very common events in the lives of many teenagers, at what age do you think this movie should be shown to kids?
~Do you think this movie would be effective at persuading young girls to give up their babies for adoption rather than having abortions? Why or why not?
~Is Juno cool? What about Bleeker? How would you define cool these days?
~Is this movie positive or negative toward premarital sex?
~Does it seem strange at all to you that there are no pastors in this movie at all? What sort of status do pastors have in the perception of a modern American teenager?
~Do you agree with Allison Janney, who says that kids have sex because they’re bored?
~Does this movie make protesting at an abortion clinic seem helpful or not?
~What do you think of Mark and Vanessa’s marriage? Compare it with Bren and Mac’s. Do you think Juno and Paulie have a future?
~How important is it to find someone who will adore and admire you even at your worst?
~What do you make of the way Juno cringes at the term “sexually active?” What is the movie trying to say about teenagers and adults here?
Overall Grade: A
Of all the pro-life movies in 2007 (Bella, Waitress, Knocked Up, and Juno), I don’t think I’m overstating the situation when I say that this is the one that has become a significant American cultural event. Significant enough that there are two kinds of people in this country: those who have seen Juno and those who haven’t.


Kerri said...

I have a question about your review of Juno. You didn't really touch on the fact that Vanessa and Mark's marriage broke up. In a lot of ways, I felt that this hurt the movie. I wanted this movie to go beyond just promoting adoption. I wanted it to show how much a blessing a baby could be to a loving couple who desperately wanted to have a family of their own. Also, Vanessa was portrayed rather negatively in the movie. The adolescent father-to-be was portrayed as cool, while the grown up, responsible mom-to-be is portrayed as controlling, cold, and on edge.

There was something else that I felt like this movie could have done. If I were going to give my baby up for adoption, I think that I would want to pick parents who were like me. I thought that this movie really could have done that. Mark and Juno have so much in common, but instead of this being the reason she chose them to adopt the baby, it turned into some random almost affair between the two.

I'm sure that this movie wasn't supposed to be a Christian movie, but with a couple of improvements I think that it could have accomplished its purpose better.

Andrew Tallman said...

I agree that the ending is not ideal. But I disagree that the movie favors Mark over Vanessa. Actually, it likes him in the beginning, but then, following Juno's insight that he is selfish and immature, it shows him as far less than ideal. I thought the point of not presenting Vanessa so favorably was precisely so that the movie could come back and show her as a very capable mother, following the theme of initial impressions being overturned throughout the movie. The child was as much Vanessa's as if she had been pregnant when Mark flaked out, and I didn't leave the movie thinking that Vanessa was going to be a problematic parent, even if she is a single one.

By the way, I love seeing other people's posts on these movies. Keep it up. =)