I’m going to take a different tack on this one. I liked Juno (2007) for numerous reasons. It was not the best movie ever made, but it had all the elements of a good movie. Well cast, strong script, well shot. As I came late to it, I thought I’d check the lay of the land and gauge public opinion on this. It seemed to be pretty much 50-50, love or hate with fairly little in the way of middle ground. I can understand that some films polarize opinion, and that’s both good and healthy. There are some people, however, who just like to hate. One such person is a user on IMDb, who goes by the name of Anirishmanstale, which is an anagram of Annihilates Rams. Interesting.
In this post I have decided to retort to this person’s ‘review’ of Juno with what I hope are at least salient and relevant points.
I am not scared to face you, An (as I will now refer to you, the rest being too long and probably not relevant). I tried to send you a message via IMDb, but I refuse to supply my account details or credit card for the ‘privilege’ of responding to your blind hatred. IMDb take note – this is not acceptable. Hopefully, you will be ego-surfing one day and find yourself on here. I look forward to your response.
So, without apology, and in the spirit of fair use, I respond to An’s critique of Juno (italics are his/hers):
If you have been one of the unfortunates to have actually seen Juno, and hated it, (and come here sometimes as I do to relish in the negative reviews), you have probably read and heard just about every negative comment there is to offer by now concerning this horrendous movie. Rather than repeat the obvious flaws that so many others before me have picked up on, I thought I would offer a few new and original observations that seemed to have gone unnoticed, or unmentioned about this dreadful movie.
So, An – do you mean unfortunate to have seen it, or unfortunate to have hated it? Why do you come to read negative reviews – do you not trust your own ‘review’? Does someone need vindication? New and original? I look forward to that.
1. Many have taken offense at the blatant bad taste in making a seemingly jovial comedy about teen pregnancy. But I have failed to see anyone anywhere take notice of the small, but clearly defined subplot of Juno’s best friend and her penchant for “doing it” with teachers. In case anyone hasn’t been reading any headlines lately, teachers, coaches, aides and other folks we trust to educate and set a good example for our children ‘poo tanging’ sic with underage students is at an all time high. Not exactly something to poke fun at. Yet it has seemed to go unnoticed in this film’s wealth of wretchedness.
An, it is a fact of life that teenage girls have crushes on their teachers (however repulsive they may be, as made patently obvious in the film), and teenage boys have the same thing for female teachers. I don’t know in which part of the world you went to school, but come on – that didn’t happen? There is no empirical evidence for her ‘doing it’, just a teenage girl’s obsession. And yes, it is funny because it happens to us all. Apart from you, apparently. And the word is ‘poontanging’, FYI.
2. We are supposed to find Juno funny, snappy, hip, and of course grow close and affectionate of her as the movie progresses. However, can anyone reading this actually feel they would sympathize, or care about a young woman that when first seeing her baby in the ultra sound says: “I can’t believe there are saps that actually cry at this moment”. Oh God……(sniff), did that ever come to getting the old eyes welling here for a girl so sweet. (Enter: Extreme sarcasm).
Two words – teenage bravado. How the hell do you think teens get to be older people? They have to deal with all kinds of emotional changes, and yes, some of them get pregnant. It is as much a knee-jerk reaction as anything else. Why can’t you see that? I think that moment in the film captured a genuinely teenage posture. I also believe that, if you need to flag sarcasm, it ain’t working.
3. I noticed that even some of the most critical of reviewers here couldn’t help but praise the performance of Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner as the idiot adoptive parents. Try as I might to find something to like about this movie, I cannot give any credit at all to Bateman and Garner. Someone please tell me what they did to get any recognition. I just cannot see it.
Really? Nothing? There was a couple who had everything – good jobs, lovely home, and yet there’s something missing for at least one of them. Bateman played the dutiful (up to a point) husband with aplomb, never once seeking to take advantage of Juno, even though (he knew) she was secretly in awe of him. Garner was a driven, successful woman with a baby missing from the equation. She loved her husband and knew of his shortcomings, preferring to keep him on a short leash rather than let him go. What part of that subtle and accomplished performance from Bateman and Garner did you not get?
4. Oh and speaking of Jason Bateman, why is it that when he up and tells Juno that he is leaving his wife, not a word is mentioned in criticism of why he went and took out a full blown ad, met with Juno, and set up the whole adoption if he was all that wishy washy and unhappy to begin with? Oh…Juno gets mad at him all right and throws a tantrum. But she never once says: “Why did you set this whole thing up and promise me a set of parents if you weren’t even happy? You stupid bastard.” Not a word is mentioned about that. Did anyone else besides me even notice that as rather strange? Pea-brained Bateman, later in the scene, tells Vanessa that he never said “he would be a good father”. Yet earlier in the interview scene Juno asks Mark if he is ready to be a father and he says he “looks forward to coaching soccer and helping build volcano’s for science projects”. Maybe it’s me but that sounds to me like someone who is saying he will be a good father. I guess the director and everybody else involved in this rotten movie forgot to proofread the whole script.
Crikey, An – you really don’t get this film at all, do you? The whole Bateman scene where he was talking about the soccer coaching and the volcano exploding/science project motif was simply that – a motif of how he imagined his trapped existence to be. The look on Bateman’s face would have given it away – had you not been wrapped up in your own smug dislike of the film, you may have noticed. It’s called acting, An – a very useful skill in films, historically. Seriously, a child could have spotted that he wasn’t serious about what he was saying. The reason Juno was not giving him a truly hard time was that a) she could see that he was never cut out for fatherhood in reality – being trapped in his post-teen would-be lifestyle, and b) the ad, she could see very quickly, was a cover as he tried to save his marriage (he said it was a stalling technique if you recall), he was thinking that if he played along, he’d get a few more months out of it at the outside. He wanted to be happy, but on equal terms.
5. To carry on with Jason Bateman and his running out on Jennifer Garner at the 11th hour, what about ‘Vanessa’s’ reaction to it all. She neither cried, screamed, carried on, slapped him, or did anything else emotionally substantial for a woman that just found out a month before a new baby is to enter her life that she is being divorced, and all at once an instant single mother. Please tell me ladies, is there any woman out there whose biggest reaction to such an event would be sitting down on their stairs and sighing, as was Vanessa’s reaction? She acted more like he had just informed her the sewer is backing up. In real life, or even in a real movie, Jason would have been awakened by a well aimed two by four across the head and dumped on the curb.
Again, that whooshing sound is the point passing you by at 120kph. Vanessa already knew the relationship was at an end, but like Mark, didn’t want to face the facts. The baby thing was the last tacit chance for them both to salvage something from their shell of a marriage. This was so evident throughout every scene they were in, you’d need to be in another country to not notice. I can only guess you are male by this statement. I sincerely hope the next (first?) girlfriend you get reacts like Vanessa, in a cool, calm and female way to situations and not like some imaginary hard-arsed bitch that only exists in the kind of movies you obviously like to watch. Too much? Tell me I’m wrong.
In conclusion, Juno is the latest, and by far the worst example of just how far one will reach to avoid not being called cool. The real irony here however is that this garbage of a movie that has become the poster child for cool, is in essence the most totally plastic movie I have ever seen. People love the film so that they can call themselves cool. They laugh at it to be cool, are brought to tears at the end to be cool, and tell everyone else who hates it that they do so for they are NOT cool. Being cool simply has to be the one common denominator in all favorable reviews of this movie for Juno can be literally eviscerated with flaws. The same caliber of Academy members that honored movies like Schindler’s List (1993), and A Beautiful Mind (2001) cannot possibly consider this film to be worth even showing up at the awards for. But nowadays heaven forbid they, or anyone else be accused of being “soooooo out of it”. Alas, I remember a happy time when the Academy of arts and sciences were proud, card carrying members of the ultimate institute of snobbery. They thrived in snubbing the cutesy pie, record setting ticket sale movies for whatever theatrical release they considered totally dashing, and debonair. I can actually remember hating them for that back in my early days of youth. Now I can only hope we see a return of it. Let me be the very first, the ‘Norma Rae’, if you will, of those that are willing to hold their head high and proclaim they are so very…uncool. Ladies and gentleman…this film sucked.
‘Juno is the latest, and by far the worst example of just how far one will reach to avoid not being called cool.’ An, what does this even mean?
‘The most totally plastic movie’. Paraphrasing Holden Caulfield does not make you big or clever.
‘Being cool simply has to be the one common denominator in all favorable reviews of this movie for Juno can be literally eviscerated with flaws.’ I don’t notice you naming any flaws An – just a lot of hot air. If you can justify your position (seriously), please get in touch, we will be happy to publish our dialogue. And, for the record, one cannot “literally eviscerate” a film – it has no intestines nor organs to be removed.
‘A happy time when the Academy of arts and sciences were proud, card-carrying members of the ultimate institute of snobbery.’ So, you prefer ‘snobbery’ (your word) to awarding Oscars and the like by virtue of a film being popular, interesting or just plain feel-good? Please, please come on and defend yourself – I welcome it.
I notice you didn’t ‘review’ Norma Rae (1979), An – why not? Perhaps you liked it too much and didn’t have the vocabulary to ‘big it up’? Come on to Picturenose with a blinding drop-dead review of Norma Rae and I promise you we’ll post it. Game on.
In short, I enjoyed Juno a lot. It was a harmless movie with a good story and some fine characterizations. Just goes to show that you can’t please all the people, eh?