"Juno" What? It Sucks
Hey! It's teens having sex and getting pregnant! There's extended dialogue about alt-rock bands! And a nerdy kid in running shorts! Plus a scene in a hospital with some crying! But it's happy crying!!
I can't possibly stand alone in detesting Fox Searchlight's surprise hit "Juno," the coming-of-age teen dramedy with a relentlessly annoying central character who is somehow stupid enough not to use protection and yet manages to command the vocabulary of a 50 year-old comedy writer-slash-Cornell humanities professor.
I mean, really?
It was early December, a blissful time when almost no one had heard of this film yet. Neither had I.
"You'll like it, it's a comedy. You like comedy," my friend said, pointing at my oversized David Letterman sweatshirt.
But then, for the next 96 minutes, as my film-going companion (along with the rest of the moderately-filled theater), laughed uproariously at the young white girl sarcastically claiming to be Morgan Freeman on her shiny plastic hamburger phone, I rolled my eyes and shifted in my seat. Little did I know that weeks down the line, the American public would make this pretentious, irritating16 year-old the second most beloved fictional protagonist next to Nicolas Cage looking for some more treasure.
Juno is a "misunderstood" high-school student who finds herself impregnated by (cue laugh track) the running geek who apparently owns no clothing other than sweatsocks and his team's uniform. Tedious scenes follow where Juno has to tell her parents and friends, in her appallingly self-righteous way, that she is with child. Confrontations with the track and field dork ensue, along with predictably uncomfortable episodes with the rich couple who wants to adopt Juno's
baby- awkward because Juno even further puffs up her bratty self to show how inappropriate she can be at all times. And because she is the lead character in a super progressive "indie" movie, no one ever slaps her. The prospective adoptive mother is played by Jennifer Garner, who
(sadly) refuses to utilize the ass-kicking skills she learned on the set of "Alias" to beat some sense into any of the other characters.
In that regard, Juno is lucky to be pregnant. Pregnant ladies, as a rule, should not get smacked by Jennifer Garner.
When the nerdy baby daddy turns cold on our poor pregnant alterna-teen, who of course, for the dramatic visual, continues to attend classes at eight months, I breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, someone who miraculously grew some common sense and walked away from this haughty, entitled know-it-all who conveniently erases those traits when it comes time for a kitchen table talk with Dad about true love, or an awkward exchange with the sonogram technician- that's when, lump in throat (!) Mommy comes to the rescue and dresses the bitch down.
I should have seen it coming. Everything from the "dude"-peppered screenplay on down to the teeth-clench inducing orange and green animated graphic that accosts my daily web activities reeks of cold film executive calculation.
"So, it's gonna have funky rock music, right?"
"Right! So people will know it's a 'funky, alternative' kind of movie."
"And an angry teen who talks back to her parents in hyper-literary language that could never come out of the mouth of a real 16 year-old."
"Exactly, that will make critics like it. But don't forget, eventually there's acceptance and crying! And someone has a baby!"
Critics, check. Suckers for rom-coms, check. Edgy teen pregnancy subject matter street cred, check. Michael Cera in running shorts, triple check.
So, it's not a "surprise" hit after all. It's almost as deliberately commercial as, well, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, quite frankly. Don't be fooled by the absence of Nic Cage and "'splosions."
I know I wasn't.
Despite its 0 for 3 status at the Golden Globes, the film will continue to make millions of dollars and collect a slew of other award nominations, maybe even a few major wins.
But I will never cave. I don't care what America says.
I still say this movie sucks, "Juno?"
-- Miki Yamashita
SAG AFTRA AEA