Sunday, April 27, 2008

In Which the Warlock Avoids Pretention...for once...

So, a few nights ago, the PlatinumChick and I sat down and watched a movie that she'd been waiting for quite a while now: Juno. She'd borrowed it from a friend at work, and had to return it, so our evening was pretty much set.

Given all that, I didn't know much about Juno aside from it had to do with Ellen Page getting pregnant and had won an Oscar. That's it. Not much else. So, when I sat down to watch it, I had practically no expectations. They were completely unfulfilled.

Juno is the story of 16 year old Juno MacGuff, a wise-cracking punk-wannabe teenager who ends up sleeping with her best friend Paulie Bleeker and getting pregnant. She attempts to have an abortion, but is guilted out of it, ending up finding an adoption family led primarily by creepy-as-ever-loving-Hell Jennifer Garner. The plot proceeds through her pregnancy in a series of season-themed vignettes and shows the breakdown of Garner's marriage to her (incredibly immature) husband.

Immediately, as the plot became apparent, I smacked my gob--'This is just like
Saved', I said. And it is. I loved Saved--the dialogue was witty, Mandy Moore [Edit--I mistakenly thought this was Lindsey Lohan, but the PlatinumChick straightened me out on the alliterative bitches] played in-type as a righteous bitch, and Macauley Culkin was an unexpected, but pleasant addition. However, two major things drove Saved: the pointed satire of religious hypocracy and dialogue that sounded natural and realistic. Juno, on the other hand, has neither of these.

The framework Juno takes is that of the "hipster"-wannabe...but overshoots the mark so far that it descends into laughability. Juno's dialogue is so unrealistic and pretentious that, instead of looking sleek and hip, it becomes absurd. About a third of the way through the movie, I literally looked at my fiancee and asked "When do people ever talk like this?"

Further, Juno is prone to having acoustic-indie guitar breaks--accompanied by nonsensical rhyming lyrics--at every possible point. The music never varies; it's simply the same sort of tune in a different key or with different lyrics. This bored me, to say the least, yet provided a dissonant chord as the music often didn't fit the action going on-screen.

I realize full-well that Juno was an independent film. When I looked on IMDB, I was actually somewhat shocked at the short shooting period--only 37 days. But that said, the movie is so far up its own ass that it's probably sniffing bile.

Saved was a likeable movie because it appeals to a general audience. That's not necessarily a bad thing! The characters seemed real, because they're people that we can empathize with. We can say "Man, I know someone just like that!" and it draws us into the storytelling.

Juno, on the other hand? Between its bizarre dialogue, its nonsensical guitar breaks, and its unrealistic ending (which really shows no knowledge of the adoption process), it defies us to criticize us, silently screaming "I dare you to not like this." Well, you know what, Juno? Screw you. Saved is a better film across the board and you can suck raw eggs if you don't like it.

That said, Juno does have one bright spot (Ellen Page's semi-nude form notwithstanding): J.K. Simmons. Yes, Spider-Man's own J. Jonah Jameson appears as Juno's sardonic father. Above all others, the best lines are reserved for him, and his presence steals each scene he's in. A fine job, on his part, as he may be the only character that sounds real.

I'm really not sure why Juno won an Oscar. It wasn't a "great" film, and it didn't really accomplish much at the box office. Compared to recent winners, it's mediocre at best. But, then again, that's Hollywood.


  1. woohoo my friend said i should see the movie and that it was good never seen it and not going to now.

  2. I can't say it was a horrible movie...just not a very good one.

    Horrible = Sum of All Fears
    Bad = Juno

    Beyond Cthulhuriffic = Transmorphers

  3. And movie reviews, too! Cool. This was just demoted on my list of must-sees... Good review, man!