Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Maker's Mark. Up.

On Thursday, I believe I became the last semi-hip urbanite in America to see Juno. The reasons to see Juno include the following:

1. Ellen Page is the most incredibly hyped young actress in the country right now, and she deserves every word of the the praise.
2. My obsession with Arrested Development is well documented, as anyone who knew me freshman year of NYU can attest. To see Jason Bateman being recognized for the comic genius he is past due. Combine this with the inclusion of the King of Awkward Comedy Michael Cera (disregard the fact that Bateman and Cera appear in precisely zero scenes together), and you can close your eyes to imagine David Cross in denim cut-offs.
3. Allison Janney is in the movie--CJ Cregg playing a canine fetishist.
4. Jason Reitman directed Thank You For Smoking, a single film that shattered the idea that Americans can't do irony.

Almost every part of the movie was fantastic. I saw this movie by myself, as I do with most movies. Something about seeing movies with people can be distracting for me, as I feel a need to comment on the action with my companion. There are certain kinds of movies (Superbad, Borat, Wedding Crashers, etc.) that necessitate a group viewing because the visceral experience of holding your sides and screaming at two nude men wrestling in a Chicago Mortgage Brokers conference with an audience is the best part of the viewing. Juno is not that kind of laughing. It is a dry, understated wit that leads to chuckles and broad grins. Diablo Cody's screenplay is touching, not because of the beauty of childbirth or anything so pat, but because of how it subtly portrays the growth of Juno during her pregnancy. Aside from the classic lines ("I am fo shizz up the spout), there is a heartfelt line that Juno's Dad is able to deliver without sounding like a Hallmark card, "All you can do is find someone who loves you for exactly who you are." I think that is a pretty good description of what people should look for in relationships--much easier that changing yourself to fit the capricious whims of a partner.

I read a weird article in The Guardian that talked about how movies like Waitress, Knocked Up, and Juno portray abortion as unthinkable or selfish. The thesis of the article--that these movies are not self-consciously anti-abortion, but reflect a conservatism in America and the generation of women who don't understand the struggle to legalize abortion--is not so radical, but I was a bit bothered at the suggestion that comedies have a social responsibility to promote political agendas. Knocked Up and Juno are not Schindler's List, and do not exist to advance or counteract socio-political trends. Furthermore, from a dramatic standpoint it would dull the story of a slacker guy and a beautiful woman getting pregnant and the attendant comedy of dealing with each other if an abortion was included as a deus ex machina. In the case of Juno, the more relevant scene was how Juno's parents deal with the news of her pregnancy. They don't heap scorn on her and brand her with a scarlet P, but they rarely miss an opportunity to joke about her carelessness. In the pregnancy clinic, Janney (the eccentric but protective step-mom) stomps an ultrasound technician for being a judgmental idiot and I heard a few claps of approval--shocking at a theater in Greenwich Village.

If you have not seen Juno, I cannot advocate it strongly enough. See it with someone you might want to have a child with, and then let a yuppie woman adopt it. Sounds like a good Saturday night to me.


Anonymous said...

Juno should've gotten the abortion

Anonymous said...

it wouldnt be the same movie if juno got an abortion.