So I was at a closing Blockbuster store the other day picking up dirt cheap blu-rays to fill up my non-existent collection (as I'm a late comer into the blu-ray player owner club (I originally sided with HD-DVD....oops (A third set of parenthesis!!!))) and the pickings at this point are a little slim, but at less than three bucks per movie that is to be expected. So when I happened across "Juno" it made me think. Does my memory deceive me? My recollection was that I had kind of enjoyed it while I watched it and then afterwards when I started thinking about the movie I felt like I had been tricked into liking a bad movie. So the decision was made, I gambled $2.99 away on a movie that I knew I had mixed feelings about, just to see...
So, what was my decision? Well, even though I'm doing this in "Abridged" format, I think I'll stick with my old format, so let us see what we can see! (I'm going to mix up the order a bit, you know, for effect).
The movie is over-written. Not necessarily the plot, but the dialogue is very forced. Almost everything that Juno herself says sounds like it would be more natural coming out of the mouth of Dennis Miller (a comparison I can take no credit for as Kim Morgan originally hit that nail on the head). While I could be forgiving of one character, possibly two getting away with being written to sound overly witty, everyone in this world seems to come off that way. It is just comes off as way too much.
The soundtrack, which is heavily featured throughout the movie, seems to be hand picked to make the movie seem even more "indie" and/or "hippster" than it already would have been. Don't get me wrong, I actually enjoy the majority of the music in the film, and I feel that it was incorporated fairly well. But again, it seemed too heavy handed, it is a bit like the dialogue in that way.
Morality, or lack there of. This movie has very little by way of consequence. Juno's parents seem a little disappointed when finding out about her pregnancy, which makes sense. But it ends up seeming unreal and it sort of hurts the believability of their characters. The big WTF in this category though goes to Mark Loring, who ok yes does end up getting divorced. But that isn't much of a bad consequence for him, unless you assume the worst case happens to him, otherwise he is just getting out of a marriage that he feels trapped in, moving into a loft and carrying on with the life he wants to lead. Which would be fine and dandy, IF (note the capitalization for emphasis), IF he hadn't attempted to engage in a little bit of pedophilia with the under-aged Juno. That just flew by, consequence free.
In my opinion this movie is held together almost entirely on the strength of the cast, one bad actor could have sent this thing flying from the real of "ok movie" to "fuck that movie!" really fast. Ellen Page does an insane job keeping Juno feeling like a teenage girl who made a mistake and is doing the best she can to do what is right. Even when the dialogue and actions are amped up to an unbelievable level she plays hits the right queues. As usual Michael Cera pulls off the geek with a heart role pretty awesomely. I enjoyed Jason Bateman's ability to start out seeming like a the awesome person and then very slowly turning into quite a bastard. Conversely Jennifer Garner does a nice job of doing the opposite, especially given the severe lack of time her character was given. And of course there is no way to get out of doing a "the good" section without mentioning Allison Janney and J.K. Simmons, what do I need to say? They are pretty much always awesome, so no surprise that they put in great performances here.
Watching it again I realize that while there is a lot of overwriting going on, the plot itself is refreshingly different. Especially considering the actual ending of the movie. Most movies would have Juno have the big change of heart and keep the baby for herself, but in this case they teased that but in the end Vanessa ended up getting her happy ending with the baby. Which was a good choice.
While I didn't particularly care for the use of the soundtrack, the over the top hippstery, wacky, crazy sets were done really well. Especially Juno's room, which frankly I'd love to just go in there and check those walls out.
Going in the second time I knew what to watch out for, what to pay attention to and what I didn't like from the retrospective view of the original.
So what was I left with? A movie that I no longer am angry at. While there are flaws, and the dialogue can really, really, get on my nerves at times (have I emphasized that at all?) There is an ok movie to be watched. Some genuine emotions, some really good laughs (yes I admit I enjoy some sarcastic snark from time to time) and a story that doesn't play out the way you normally would expect it too. I'd say keep the expectations low, and you should enjoy your watch. The second viewing left me comfortable enough with the movie to go for a third viewing to listen to the commentary.
Besides, it is impossible to hate any movie that uses "Thundercats are goooooo!" to announce water breaking, and also praises "The Wizard of Gore."