Juno: It’s Everything It’s Cracked Up to Be, But You Didn’t Hear It from Me
Fine, I give in to the damn Junoverse. Someone get me my novelty pregnancy test souvenir.
Remember when you went to see Napoleon Dynamite for the first time, and all your friends were like “Dude, you are going to lose it because it is all so hilarious,” and they ended up being totally right because you totally lost it, and you guys all quoted it for days, and you were all “Your mom goes to college,” “No, YOUR mom goes to college, heh heh heh, vote for Pedro!”* But then something happened. ND was a little more popular with the blockbuster crowd than expected, and it was able to secure a larger release. Suddenly there were t-shirts at Target quoting “Your mom goes to college” right back at you, and your memories of theater bliss became faint while annoyance set in.
I’m concerned that Juno, one of the year’s best films, will go down that dubious road, judging from the amount of press it’s already getting. When I walked into the theater, someone handed me a postcard that said “JOIN THE JUNOVERSE!” and then called me “HOMESKILLET!” on the back. I understand that movie studios are in the biz to make money, and that they all learned from Napoleon and Little Miss Sunshine that indie comedies are no longer to be taken lightly. I know they are jumping on this thoroughly lovable movie like it’s a winning lottery ticket because that’s their job. But I sat there in that theater as I waited for the film to begin, staring at a postcard that told me to post on my MySpace profile something about how “awesome” Juno is, and I hated on that movie before it even began.
When I say “thoroughly lovable,” I mean “blasted through the barriers of presupposition and snobbery that I had defensively erected and restored my prematurely-hardened heart into a healthy, nay, thriving organ.” I also cried, like, one thousand times.
Although I had recently made a promise to myself to dock each movie a half star that didn’t feature talking polar bears in some fashion or another, I’m recalibrating my scale, people. The new magic formula for a kickass film is clever dialogue without overkill, genuine emotion and insight, a willingness to drop the irony when other films would use it as a crutch, and due attention to the magnificent rock bands from the early to mid-1990s.
You can read all about the director, screenwriter, and relevant trivia on IMDB.com or Wikipedia and, hell, you can even join the “Junoverse,” if you want, whatever that is. Who am I to tell you not to? I still buy shoes at Delia’s! It’s just that in my opinion, the less hype you experience for this one, the better. In fact, I’m even worried about my OWN hype distracting you, so I’m going to go ahead and drain the rest of this review of any enthusiasm. You’ll be getting plenty of it elsewhere, anyway. So I’ll just say the acting was “fair,” the directing “acceptable,” and the screenplay utterly “middling.”** I’d “maybe watch it again if it came on TV” and my inner teenage girl “certainly didn’t wriggle with pleasure at being understood so completely.”*** Three stars, catch it if you want to, skip it if not, whatever, no biggie, I’ll live.****
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