Monday, January 07, 2008

"Juno" is a Fine Teen Preg Movie

The buzz movie in the pro-marriage circuit for the past six months has been "Juno," which finally opened during Christmas week. I went to see it with my daughter Endub and her friend. They thought it great -- they sang along with the Kimya Dawson soundtrack, repeated the jokes, and liked the title character. At the end they said they both felt "very indie." I am a little too old and was always too bourgeois to be indie, but I did appreciate Juno as a smart kid who did a dumb thing, but then handled it well. What is even rarer in popular fiction these days, her parents handled it well, too. This is a movie with a competent father -- a standout feature all by itself.

The acting is great, the dialogue is artistically heightened in a funny way, and the soundtrack is really good, especially for the target demographic. Most reviewers think it is excellent.

There are critics, of course. I was interested in what they criticized. They thought Juno was too hardened in her view of adult relationships, too mature, wise-cracking, and self-directed for her age. Yet I think a smart girl in her situation would just assume she could not really depend on the permanence of marital love. Juno is 16, and knows from the outset she is not ready to raise a child. Her teen boyfriend isn't either. Her parents are divorced and remarried (Juno's mom is off with her new husband and her "replacement kids.") Her step-mother is very helpful, but is still not her mom. Juno finds a child-hungry yuppie wife and her ambivalent husband to give the baby to. Juno's real crisis does not come from the baby so much as from the fact that none of the relationships is solid. I will not spoil anything to say the movie resolves the crisis sweetly and well.

1 comment:

peter hoh said...

Agreed.

I can't recall a better father-daughter relationship portrayed on film.

I'm disappointed that none of the high-profile marriage and family blogs have weighed in on "Juno" yet. What are they waiting for? It's an opportunity to shape the discussion.

The lyrics of one of the songs, "part-time lover and a full-time friend," suggest hook-up culture. Without moralizing, I think that "Juno" lifts up the idea that there is (or ought to be) more to relationships than hooking up.