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December 03, 2007

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Great site, Nick. Thanks for giving me another reason to avoid seeing Juno in a theater. The publicity for this has just killed any enthusiasm I might have had for seeing Ellen Page and Michael Cera in a movie together, or one that dealt with teen pregnancy in a novel and amusing way.

I need to go at least a month without reading that Brook Busey-Hunt - also known as "Diablo Cody" - is a stripper turned screenwriter before I can watch the movie with an open mind. What happened to the good old days when screenwriters were living in their mom's basement and got their break because they could write?

It's even more preposterously obscure than that: She says "Thundercats are Gooooooooo!" which is a '80s-kitsch variant are "Thunderbirds are Goooooooooooo!" which is even two more decades before her time.

I dug the flick, but you're not wrong on any of your points. It was like a satisfying episode of Gilmore Girls. Just glad I had a screener and didn't pay ten bucks for it.

Aaron,

I just went back and checked my own screener, and you're right. Sheesh. That's even worse than I remembered.

Man, this film bugs me...

When did twee presciousness become acceptable in our culture? Thank you Wes Anderson?

Daniel,

Unfortunately, I think Wes Anderson (whom I generally like) is partially to blame for the "twee preciousness" you mention. But whereas Anderson's mode is authentic and comes equipped with real humanism, his imitators seem to think that quirkiness is a virtue unto itself, and should be doled out in copious quantities.

A film like Juno is, I admit, interested in its characters, but the problem is that its characters aren't really characters in the first place; they're all just slightly different (though uniformly hip) mouthpieces for screenwriter Diablo Cody. And her script doesn't, in my mind, amount to much more than an endless stream of ill-fitting pop culture references and modern slang, all designed to show off just how unbelievably cool Cody herself is.

yeah fuck wes anderson. HA!

yeah fuck wes anderson. HA!
I like the words you used to down this film. I couldn't agree more about this trend movement. Like what the fuck does Dario Argento and a indy film such as this have in common?

I love Wes Anderson, but it seems now his own films are getting negatively picked over too much about his style, while movies like Juno get off scott free, even though they're much more forced, desperate for you to love it, and don't even have a good style to make up for it.

I don't blame Anderson for an overrated movie like Juno any more than I blame Nirvana for Candlebox. Its the suits who realize theres money to be made by forcing "This years Little Miss Sunshine" down our throats.

Goon: Let me clarify. I don't blame Anderson, per se, for films like Juno, but I think his influence on indie cinema has been more negative than positive. It's not his fault that people have taken certain aspects of his work and used them in increasingly unbearable ways, but that's what's happened nonetheless.

I agree about Wes Anderson. I'm a fan but his influence ultimately has been negative. It's no different from the time Pulp Fiction was released and the following years brought all the Tarantino wannabe indie films. I saw so many first-time screenplays come across my desk imitating Tarantino (very badly) it made me cynical about indie filmmakers and their "original voices". There are formulas in independent film the same as there are in big studio movies.

I really do think you guys are being very harsh on the film. I thought this film was fantastic, it had alot of heart and alot of laughs without cursing very much. I remember reading a review that said that indie films were taking a wrong path if they continued on this route but I really enjoyed it. I felt that Michael Cera was the awkward character that set the film in a different direction because it was the female role which took charge in the film and not the usual male responsibility factor. Michael Cera did a great job of revealing the desperation in the male adolescent seeking love. His lines were cheesy but his personality made them work better than anyone else. And I cannot get the ending scene out of my mind, its classic. The actors actually recorded the ending song and it stabbed your heart at the end because there was sooo much struggle with the female character and her pregnancy that the thought of Michael cera's character and his feelings dwindled. And nevertheless he was in less scenes than i had expected but was able to bring something more to the film by using his cliche awkward acting style to bring humor and to show the human heart in a weird and quirky way, but much better than most of the fake love stories that usually come out. (cough..PS I LOVE u...cough) I understand where u guys see that it was lame but i think people need to get over how pop culture influenced this movie and appreciate all the little details in the film that make it even more memorable. I know there is a crapload of hype around the movie but I really laughed and felt teary eyed at times. Even the role of Juno's father was awesome, the blunt humor and openess of juno's character has showed us a personality that we have not seen done well in a long time. And yes when the girls are speaking in weird teenage colloquialisms I did not laugh but we must remember that this movie also educates little girls not to have teen pregnancies or to give them away and sometimes that kind of humor was necessary to help relate to the younger audience. Because I paid to go see it and realized that 70 percent of the audience were females under the age of 21 so I really think that this film didn't really deserve a C-. I think u guys are overanalyzing it and comparing to too much other stuff out there. Cuz indie films are kind of like the hot button now but people only think of that and don't compare it to a movie that has a similar plot. Who cares about Wes Anderson? this is a movie about a teen pregnancy and the christian way out not about awkward humor films about fishing and shit. Thats like me saying i didnt like this one cuz little miss sunshine was better. SAme style, not same plot, not same actors, not same director. Hell it hasn't even made that much yet and everyone complains about it cuz it was a film universally enjoyed. Its like people don't like that the indie genre is becoming so accepted, as if it were only for dorks and stoners before. Get over it, the masses will take it and mass produce it now and the next film of this style will suck. Oh and Btw, if u have a screener share the link so u guys can show me again y u think this movie is bad.

How can u give hairspray a b- and this a c-? And so what if she uses something that is 2 decades before her time? So ure saying that kids these days are not into retro 80's? Your ideas of adolescence are as lost as u were during this film. I enjoyed that they were able to point out funny things in the psyche of youth, like the jock who was secretly in love with the goth weirdos. Or the girl katrina with the "stink eye", that shit was funny. Even the parent's reaction to when she told them was priceless, "I was hoping she was expelled or on hard drugs. but not this." Lol!!!

Philippe: Um, I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree. About everything you wrote.

Anonymous: How could I give Hairspray a more positive grade than Juno? Because it's better. Lol!!!

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for this perfect review. I didn't hate this movie when I saw it, but I'm starting to. All my friends who are typically more mainstream filmgoers are so excited to tell me they've seen it, because they know I like independent film and feel like they've now had a cool common experience that we can share. It's breaking my heart every time I have to tell another one of these people that I thought it was just so-so. I can't stand screenwriters who create completely inappropriate mouthpieces for their own interests. I don't care how "cool" she's supposed to be there is absolutely no way a girl her age would know 1/10 of the anachronistic pop culture that she spouts off about. The year's most overrated film for sure.

"Juno" is the type of movie just begging for a critical backlash. I just got back from seeing this film after reading Ebert's overly effusive review (Ellen Page is good but I think it's a bit over the top to say she's going to be "one of the finest actresses of her time"). Truthfully I'm still kind of digesting how I feel about this movie. It's a movie I can see how someone could like or hate with near equal validity.

On the one hand I did like the film and seeing it the first time around I didn't notice the hip snarkiness nearly as much as the gentle tone and arc of the story. Much of the dialogue came through too fast and too lightly to really stick with me as being so self-conscious. In reading some of the negative reviews I think the emphasis on its overly managed writing or cultural references was overplayed and the reviewers often came across like spoilsports. Yes, the characters are often a bit too clever for their own good but it is a movie and taken in that spirit I can enjoy it. To me, the character of Juno reminded me a little bit of a more outgoing, brought-to-life version of MTV's "Daria" mixed with Jenna Malone's "Mary" in "Saved" a few years ago.

However, coming home I thought to myself why do I also feel somewhat conflicted here? Going on Rotten Tomatoes and reading some of the negative reviews here did help flesh out some of what I had also a small but needling sense of when watching this film. The whole movie takes place in a world where people are so self-aware of how they sound and behave that sometimes it's like they're internally watching the movie about themselves while performing their roles. Yes, it's filled with many various obviously obscure pop culture references and is trying very hard to play to different audiences by making Juno's character of study of brilliantly biting and affected aloofness mixed with an underlying romantic vulnerability. At different points I felt the wheels turning on the plot even though there were several interesting and touching plot twists that surprised me (the mall scene and ending scene being two examples). This movie was like looking behind the curtain of a very complicated, involved magic trick. You are impressed with the skill and thought involved even if it loses some of the mystery. I got the sense this was the type of film born to be a boon with film reviewers. Like "High Fidelity" the story revolves around the type of hypersmart and witty movie/music/culture snob characters many reviewers probably often like to think they see in themselves.

That said I do think there's a lot more heart and soul to this film than just being a paean to cooler-than-thou mysfitdom. Though I don't believe the movie is the landmark film some mainstream reviewers are blubbering on about I honestly did care about these characters and enjoyed this story even if there intermittently was a simultaneous annoyance with their cloying preciousness. It didn't get in the way enough for me to not appreciate it on its own terms.

"Juno" is the classic case of a movie that works best of you know nothing about it or its lingo and arrive as a blank slate. The script, acting and direction might be a little too impressed with its own originality and heart but I still have to grant it the originality and heart it does have. Though it may be markedly overrated and seems to be the victim of bandwagondom it's a good little coming-of-age story. Even if I wish it wasn't made out to be such a big deal in some critical circles I'm still not too good to be in on the fun.

I completely disagree with philippe.

first of all I am a 20 year old female. so you blaming this review on the over analyzing male critics is completely false. this movie in itself is not an indie film, but rather trying to imitate a style that was successful years ago. This movie is a product of a big house production agency (fox) trying to make an "indie" film. its inherently fake, contrived and impossible to watch.

this movie tried to recreate the very culture that i live in, and it failed miserably.

i can see why most critics have rated it so high, but they must be dusty old 50yr old women, who have no idea what its like to be a teenager in America today.

you can see this film trying too hard. its not honest, or real. i feel as though diablo cody is just begging for some "street cred" with kids. and well... in my book, she failed.

At the initial exchange between Ellen Page & Rain Wilson that opens JUNO i looked over to my wife and groaned. I knew it was gonna be a tedious thing to sit through and it defintely was. Over-rated tripe.

I wish I could remember most of the 'snarky' dialogue, but I couldn't really pay attention as I was weeping uncontrollably. I had my son when I was sixteen and felt completely let down by this portayal of teen pregnancy. While I didn't expect it to be bleak - it is a comedy after all - I did think it would be at least vaguely realistic. The only part that struck me as even remotely real was the scene where Janney ticks off the ultrasound technician. I was insulted plenty of times during my pregnancy by complete strangers. I don't know if Diablo Cody spoke to anyone who had experienced a teen pregnancy before (one would hope so) but my guess is that even if she did, she disregarded the real stories of these mothers in favour of creating a character that would get a more laughs, and who is more emotionally mature than any 16 year old I've ever met.
While I think there should be more films that treat this issue with humour, instead of the bleak right wing view afforded by sappy made for TV specials, a little reality would go a long way.
What a wasted opportunity.

This movie most definitely pats itself on the back. I can see Diablo Cody at her writing desk, hugging herself with glee when she should have been putting more thought into proper editing. There were too many pointless references to count. "No, it's Morgan Freeman, do you have bones that need collecting?"
???
I agree with everyone who has commented on the movie's contrived identity. The main character is an overly polished daydream of what the screenwriter probably wished she were back in highschool, had she gotten knocked up. For pete's sake, she speaks into a hamburger phone, chews on a pipe and delivers the baby wearing oh-so-quirky striped knee socks. Not to mention the shit that comes out of her mouth...
anyway. I guess when some people want to prove to the world how "with-it" they are before they turn 30, which seems to be the case with Ms. Cody. I long to see the movie that respectfully portrays genuine youth. I'm tired of snappy hipsters and their diametrically-opposed awkward love interests. Why does everything have to be such an unintentional caricature these days?

has it been mentioned that Morgan Freeman wasn't even IN The Bone Collector???

God- I could not stand that girl- thank you....the Pipe??? The cashier at the store and their witty banter? This movie actually got better as it went along despite Juno. George Michael Bluth was great as was his dad and Jennifer Garner showed her chops as well. If I never see Ellen Page again it will be too soon.

Hey Nick Shager- what about the fact she kept loading up her tray with food in the lunch line??? Really, five hamburgers, 3 tacos, 2 subs aand 5 slices of pizza? Really? Really, that's how much she is going to eat? Wow- she sure is an iconoclast- quirky- cut- funny-witty.

Oh and we get it she swims against the stream= we get it with the 3 visuals of her in the hallway in the crowds. This movie reaked and Diablo Cody should go back on the pole- wher she probably did entertain a few people.

Last question- when Garner was surprised that Juno saw ad in Penny saver...did Bateman post it there in hopes of noone seeing it? Please expand bc you seem somewhat smart and write good reviews.

As a teenager, I enjoyed this movie greatly. I foudn it to be an accurate depiction of teenage life. A lot of kids are into retro 80's, not me personally, but I know quite a few. So I don't understand the problems with references to 80's culture.

@Lauren:
That's because it was not trying to recreate the culture you live in. You been graduated from high school or about 2 or 3 years(hopefully)now, things change.

@Rusty O.

How does a lot of kids being into the 80's explain her love of 70's bands, 70's italian horror & her reference to Soupy Sales or Thunderbirds (which the review covers)? Although it's possible (but unlikely) that she could have had an interest in or knowledge of these things (the music and films more likely than the pop culture flotsam and jetsam) reponses like yours, from real teens, only validate Nick's suspicions. I'm almost certain that you didn't pick up on the Thunderbirds reference. Do you also find that a lot of kids in your age range choose to reference almost nothing from their own generation? Why Diana Ross, say, rather than Beyonce?

What's all the more jarring is the fact that despite her professed love of the Stooges and Patty Smith she prefers to play 90's/00's, folksy acoustic jams on her guitar!!!!

ask yourself the simple question, did you feel anything, did you laugh... where you entertained... moved? if yes, great.

all this debate about the realism of the characters etc.. illustrates that your not willing to let go and let the film be what it is.. a comedy with a one of kind character that is clearly invented for our pleasure. Did i miss something here, was Juno sapposed to be a documentary about teenage pregnancy? Don't you all remember that smart quirky outsider at your high school who was into something no one else was??? if this movie is too trendy rent ATONEMENT - if its to unrealistic, rent a documentary, if the lead character is too clever to be real then perhaps its cuz your watching a MOVIE - which, (and this is my point) is entirely unreal.

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