Juno

by

Juno 

Warning – contains spoilers

It’s taken me a week to get over Juno. I saw it last weekend, geared up by the glowing reviews and Oscar receipts. I found out The Moldy Peaches were on the soundtrack well in advance, being a reader of Pitchfork who’s admired the lo fi twosome since their album came out in 2001. It’s fair to say I was looking forward to this film. It’s also fair to say I was massively disappointed by what I saw. I’ll go further… I was bloody annoyed by how utterly shit it is.

First off – Ellen Page’s performance as the eponymous Juno. Ok – so the dialogue she had to work with is soul-crushingly leaden and heavy on the half-arsed witticisms. Fine – she was dressed like the most unconvincing ‘geek’ you’ve ever seen… None of this makes up for the fact that she felt the best way to portray an outsider was to walk like a forty year old man and talk like a sarcastic five-year old. Possibly the most unendearing central performance I’ve seen since Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. This probably explains how she only has one friend in the whole movie – an unreconstructed airhead character who is treated completely one-dimensionally. Probably the only kind of chum she’d ever be able to make considering she speaks like a written-out Dawson’s Creek extra.

And that dialogue somehow won an Oscar. There is something inherently wrong with the world when critics and the Academy decide that overwritten rubbish like Juno deserves such an accolade. In one of her first exchanges, Juno says something along the lines of ‘I am fo’ shizz pregnant’ whilst speaking on her oh-so-amusingly-kitsch hamburger phone to aforementioned braindead pal. How amusing – a fifteen year old girl appropriating hip hop language. In the same piece of dialogue she says ‘silencio’ instead of shut up. Another example of how swamped this movie is with clunky, unappealing, unrealistic, smugly self-aware speech.

Page’s conversations with Michael Cera – the father of her unborn child – are supposed, I guess, to be charmingly innocent. He is a dork on the running team who can barely communicate. A mummy’s boy, in essence. A character who pretty much shrinks into the background of every scene. Not his fault, really – his dialogue is limited to yelps of unfunny reaction. Their relationship is unbelievable. I never for once believed that they’d met before, let alone procreated.

As the film drones on, Juno’s parents appear to speak in exactly the same kind of cliched child-speak she herself waffles in. So at least we know where she gets it from. But their acceptance of her having become pregnant, again supposedly meant to be endearing, actually stretches credibility to breaking point and from this point on, the film loses any grounding in realism it had already abandonded from the off.

When Juno meets the people she’s giving her baby up for, played by Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner, we see that they are yuppies with a lovely house and many, many rules of behaviour. It turns out that Bateman is actually a bit of a child at heart – he becomes friends with Juno away from the prying eyes of his control-freak wife. They watch horror movies together and discuss grunge music. It is entirely unlikely. And creepy by the end – specifically when we see them slowdancing together, sharing trust that really wouldn’t exist in that set of circumstances.

Bateman leaves his missus, just to add to his character’s bizarre air of creepiness and the baby is eventually given to Garner. This is exasperating. The only point at which she’s been able to attempt to convince us that she’s not an OCD-ravaged bundle of neuroses is when she puts her head to Juno’s swollen tum-tum and goes all maternal. With that one brief scene in mind, we’re meant to believe she’ll make a great mother.

This is patently bullshit. And convenient too, as it means Juno has offloaded her ‘problem’ without having to upset the anti-abortion critics (personified by an offensive Chinese stereotype who can’t say ‘born’ without saying ‘borned’). It also sets up the happy ending perfectly without anyone actually getting damaged by the experience. Indeed, the only result is happiness. Juno gets with her boy and Garner gets her babby (and is somehow miraculously transformed into a great Mum).

The final scene really made me gag on the booze I’d been driven to drinking. A wonderfully understated song on the Moldy Peaches debut album named ‘Anyone Else But You’ is pissed on by Page and Cera, who attempt to reinvent it for the purposes of the movie using badly tuned acoustic guitars. They somehow manage to make a lovely, charming, badly-recorded gem sound like a work of evil. Actual, atrocity-level evil. Page tries to embellish the half-spoken lines with Tori-Amosesque shrieks whilst Cera is devoid of charisma and it is woeful beyond explanation.

It’s a fittingly crap end to a mystifyingly celebrated movie. I advise you to avoid, unless you’re willingly swept-away by faux-quirky fakery on the back of misguided recommendations from film critics who should know so much better.

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21 Responses to “Juno”

  1. Napoleon Cockaparte Says:

    There’s not enough of Kurt Russel in an eye-patch shooting people in films nowadays. This Juno sounds rubbish … but I bet it would have been fucking great had it featured Kurt Russel emptying his chamber into the lead character’s face. Then it could of have a bit where Kurt Russel rips off a big black fella’s head. And it could of ended with Kurt Russel blowing up the Earth because it had got on his nerves. That would have been worth watching, would that.

  2. Clarys Says:

    I saw Juno a few weeks ago (can’t actually remember when). I was much the same – I’d read great review after great review, I assumed not everyone could be wrong.

    Well, there was my first mistake.

    In nearly every piece of writing about the film, everyone said how much you’d care for the characters, how they would worm their way into your heart, etc etc. Nothing less likely – I found Juno to be a bit stupid, Michael Cera’s (a bloody good actor, given half the chance) character worryingly one dimensional and the “parents” just didn’t ring true. I like Ellen Page, I think she was fantastic in Hard Candy, but none of the story rang true for me. Much like yourself, when Juno and Cera are professing their love for one another I felt like shouting, “Fucking behave yourself! You don’t even know each other!”

    More than anything, I found it disappointing. I wanted to like it, I really did. But I found it to be quite soulless and too try hard. A shame.

  3. Napoleon Cockaparte Says:

    And I bet there’s no boobs in it, neither.

  4. Swineshead Says:

    Weird – those three comments were like a Clarys sandwich on NC multigrain.

    No NC – no Kurt Russell, sadly, but there was the violent gay Nazi from Oz. Ever see Oz? It was great.

    Michael Cera – what else has he been in?

    *googles*

  5. Clarys Says:

    He’s bloody brilliant in Arrested Development. And while I hated Superbad (another overrated film), he’s much better in that – probably something to do with having more than two lines of dialogue, I would imagine.

  6. Swineshead Says:

    Ah right. I didn’t watch Superbad on the back of Knocked Up being drivel.

  7. Napoleon Cockaparte Says:

    I thought Knocked Up was alright. It could have done with more knockers, neck-snapping, and kung-fu, mind.

  8. Swineshead Says:

    It had some good dick jokes but the critical handjob it received all over the press and TV was a bit confusing.

  9. Napoleon Cockaparte Says:

    I didn’t care for the baby popping out of her parts. That bit could have replaced with tits.

  10. sphorx Says:

    Sir, I noticed that you still have my old blog on your blogroll. Would you mind putting my updated blog address on your blogroll?

    It’s in DC, or I can tell you here.

  11. Napoleon Cockaparte Says:

    Where’s my fucking post about Holby, you idle sod? You got pissed last night, didn’t you? Pissed, rang up work pretending to be ill, and sat at home feeling sorry for y’self, no doubt.

    Unless you’ve found out you’ve got cancer, or someone’s dead, in which case – where’s my fucking post about Holby, you idle sod?

  12. Swineshead Says:

    I’m at work, I just hadn’t noticed you’d written anything.
    Might be because I’m used to you and that useless loaf of mouldy lazybread Piqued doing fuck all for months on end to further this slowly degenerating webshite.

    Anyway, it’s up now. THANKS FOR PULLING YOUR FINGER OUT OF YOUR PUTRID ARSE AND WRITING AN ARTICLE.

  13. Napoleon Cockaparte Says:

    You’re welcome. And the reason I’ve not written anything for months is that I’ve watched nothing of any interest for months. That’s why I’ve given up and written about Holby City instead.

    You pissed-up, idle, CUNT.

  14. Hux Renn Says:

    juno has one of the most annoying soundtracks of all time, and it never shuts the fuck up.

  15. piqued Says:

    Hux, can you watch your language please you cunt

  16. westendwookie Says:

    I watched this piece of crap about 3 weeks ago with my missus.
    The dialogue is fucking appalling. I was sitting thinking, “how did this get made?” Surely, whoever fronted the cash to make it was trying to lose it, for tax reasons or something, and the unintended, and unlikely success has scuppered their plans.

    Strangely my wife liked it, and got rather annoyed at my continued assertions that it was the worst kind of trying to be clever and quirky shite!!

    The only funny bit in the whole film is the visual gag with the girl with the odd looking face, which i did laugh spray beer down my nose at.

  17. ELM Says:

    If there is one thing worse than a smug American movie, it’s a smug American movie which takes itself seriously.

    I hate teenagers anyway, so the fact that she got knocked up simply makes me laugh. Shame on Jason Bateman though.

  18. Bête de Jour Says:

    You write very well, Swineshead. So well in fact, that I am beginning to doubt myself. You swine.

    You see, I loved Juno. I found it – after the first ten minutes, which I disliked – funny, heart-warming and enormously involving. I like, totally fell for Juno, just like the posters said I would. Also, I found the dialogue snappy and believable – just the kind of thing a sass-mouthed American kid comes out with in my experience (of other sass-mouthed American kid films).

    So – one of us is wrong, and I’m afraid – until I watch the film again in a month or two and perhaps re-opine – I have to assume it’s you. And all of the other people who agree with you.

    Shame on you.

  19. Swineshead Says:

    No. You are wrong. It is shit.

    And don’t ask me to prove it as you can’t probve a negative. Or something.

    *WINS*

  20. Swineshead Says:

    prove*

  21. John Q Wagonwheel Says:

    You can probe a negative, just don’t try it for a few dates.

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