Saturday, December 22, 2007

What I'm Watching: Juno *SPOILERS*

I've been looking forward to seeing Juno for a while because of all the buzz surrounding it and for the Jason Bateman-Michael Cera reunion. Sadly, Michael Bluth and George Michael Bluth never share the screen, but the movie is still very enjoyable.

The plot is simple. The titular character, Juno, a 16 year old high school student, gets pregnant when she decides to alleviate her boredom by having sex with her friend, Bleeker. After briefly considering an abortion, Juno decides to have the baby and give it up for adoption. And hilarity ensues.

As I said, the plot is quite, quite simple. The fun of Juno comes from the humor of the dialogue exchanges. Screenwriter Diablo Cody concocts razor sharp and pop-culture imbued lines for her characters. At first, the dialogue is almost too clever for its own good. As I listened to the interplay between Juno and the convenience store cashier regarding her third positive pregnancy test, I thought "People don't talk like this." I was afraid the movie was going to enter a Mametesque place, but it settled down. Still, Juno is remarkably articulate and witty for a girl of her age.

Interestingly, there isn't much of an arc to Juno's character. Juno states that by giving up her child, it'll be like nothing happened in 30 odd weeks. By the end of the film, Juno has the child and makes good on her adoption promise. The one difference in her character is that she has admitted her love for Bleeker.

The story thread that interested me the most was the relationship between the adoptive father-to-be, Mark, and Juno. Juno starts spending time with Mark and develops a crush on him for their common ground in music and movies. It culminates in Mark leaving Vanessa, his wife, to return to his musical aspirations and, presumably, pursue some kind of relationship with Juno. Juno rebuffs him.

Two of my own scripts deal with men grappling with the expectations of adulthood, so this part of the plot was close to home for me. But I had problems with Juno and Mark's motivations. Just before seeing Mark for the final time, Juno puts on lipstick. If she doesn't want to be with him, why does she do this? And Mark says that he's not ready to be a father. If that's the case, why is he pursuing a young mother-to-be?

Also, I thought that Vanessa's character was almost too overbearing. She's sympathetic because of her desperation to have a baby, but there's only that single sympathetic trait about her. At worst she seems obsessed. Mark is made out to be the far cooler and down-to-earth person. You can hate him for his decision to leave Vanessa, but only to a point, because Vanessa seems shrewish. If Vanessa had been pregnant, he would have been far easier to hate.

But those are minor quibbles for a film that had me laughing out loud from start to finish. The writing and performances are fantastic and I think Ellen Page is worthy of Oscar consideration.

1 comment:

JD said...

Juno is modern masterpiece.