So I went to see Juno last night with BFF, and I found it really... troubling. And I couldn't quite put my finger on why I found it so troubling until this morning. See, here's the thing. The general buzz I'd heard about the movie was something like the following from Entertainment Weekly:
"But director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody really don't give a hoot what you think about the right to life/right to choose/right to make jokes about teen sex. Their movie, a blithe charmer balanced somewhere between a life-should-be-so-neat fairy tale and a life's-a-real-bitch tragicomedy, leaves political debate at the ticket counter and focuses solely on what it's like for Juno MacGuff to be Juno MacGuff. And damned if the girl, as played by Hard Candy's radiantly no-nonsense Page, isn't who every whip-smart young moviegoing woman cheered by My So-Called Life, Freaks and Geeks, Daria, and the graphic novels of Daniel Clowes ought to aspire to be. Minus the unprotected sex."
Um, yeah, except I don't think that's a fair assessment of the movie. I think the movie does glorify Juno's choice to have the baby and to give it up for adoption (without exploring in a real way what consequences for such a decision might actually look like), but even more than that, I think the movie has a really dark view of what adult gender roles are supposed to look like and what it's supposed to mean to "grow up," at least as seen through the lens of the adoptive couple whom Juno chooses for her kid. What "growing up" means for the Jason Bateman character is selling out and giving up his dreams, his "real life" and stuff relegated to a room he's been given in his McMansion, and when he decides that he can't live like that, well, we hate him for it, in spite of the fact that his McMansion life really does suck in a great many ways. Now, I've gone out with the guy whom I'll call "The Sonic Youth Guy," and I understand the impulse to vilify that guy (Aside: I think I was one of only like 3 people who got why it was funny and laughed in the theater when Juno burst out with "I bought another Sonic Youth record and it just sounded like noise!" when TSYG showed his true colors), but I think the reason that his portrayal was disturbing to me is that he - much more than the Jennifer Garner character - is like an older (though less wise) version of Juno. And if Juno's options are to become one of the two, the movie seemed to pretty clearly endorse the McMansion Garner over the Indie Bateman, both in the portrayal of Garner at the end of the movie and in the fact that Juno ultimately chooses a relationship with Bleeker (because god forbid she remain steadfast in her claim that she wasn't in love with him and yet had sex with him anyway).
Another problem I had with the movie is my usual problem that I have with all movies in which pregnancy is featured, which is the pregnancy test scene where the female character is not content with just one at home test, nor with two, but takes more and more tests "to be sure." Now, at least Juno only takes three, BUT. Here's a tip, Hollywood: at minimum, a pregnancy test costs like 8 bucks (and that's if you buy the Walgreen's brand, and who is going to trust such an important thing to a generic test? I'm sure some people must, but the few times I've taken a pregnancy test, I've not been willing to trust the off brand for my answer), and a typical pregnancy test costs around $14 to $18. Let's say you're willing to invest and to buy two, just to be sure. (Assuming you don't buy the one that has two tests in it.) I'm betting that after the second one you'd call some sort of clinic or doctor, yeah? Especially if you were "poor" like Juno (which, incidentally, I thought was a bit of a stretch). So, Hollywood, do me a favor. The next time you have a character get pregnant in a movie, don't do the multiple pregnancy test thing. It's about as lame as when Hollywood movies have that scene with women dancing around a kitchen table or something (like in Practical Magic), which just doesn't really happen very often and makes me irritated.
So yes, the movie left me troubled. But the soundtrack was sweet.