Smile Politely

Juno Doesn’t Live Up to the Hype

By now most of us have seen the film Juno at least once. It’s now out on DVD — and you can even find a pretty decent online version of the movie. So many people loved this movie, and if they didn’t love it most people thought it was at least quirky and witty. Seriously, in my humble opinion, Juno sucked. It’s really difficult for me to organize my gripes about this movie with much coherency, but it’s worth a try.

First, Juno had some of the worst (or I guess best) product placement I’ve ever seen. It basically started out as a Sunny Delight commercial. Backlit by a setting sun, our hero Juno MacGuff downs a massive bottle of Sunny D — a corn syrup and yellow-dye number 5 filled beverage — all the rage with kindergarteners. And congrats to the advertisers, we will all remember that Juno drank Sunny Delight before taking her pregnancy test.

A little bit later in the film we learn that the dad of Juno’s baby (played by always awkward Michael Cera) loves Tic-Tacs. He just can’t get enough of orange flavored Tic-Tacs. At one point Juno even says, “You can never have too many of your favorite one-calorie breath mint.” I had to pause the movie at this point. My craving for orange flavored Tic-Tacs suddenly became over powering.

That’s odd, Juno seems like such an indie/hip flick. It’s not so odd because it’s nowhere near being indie. Fox Searchlight, a division of 20th Century Fox, must have put so much R&D into what the hip kids are doing these days. What kind of movies do they like? What kind of things do they find funny? And most notably, what kind of music do they listen to?

While I admit I enjoy the soundtrack for the most part, Fox Searchlight successfully produced a film that, instead of actually being a representation of teenagers, looked like what a bunch of white guys think teenagers are like. The dialogue was supposed to be real edgy, hip, and quirky. Instead it was contrived and annoying. “Honest to blog!” – that is the first time I’ve ever heard that and hopefully the last. Who has ever said “Phuket, Thailand”? If you have, you’re probably a 10-year old pretending to swear in front of your parents. “Fo shiz, up the spat.”

No one talks like that.

And because the dialogue wasn’t great, I must assume that Fox must have doled out a lot of cash for the music department of the film. Not only did we hear The Kinks, Mott the Hoople, Belle & Sebastian, but there was so much pretentious music name-dropping — including both bands and guitar brands. If you watch closely, or even not so closely, you’ll see stickers for the Ramones and Bad Religion placed right where we can see them. Super hip props for a super hip movie.

So, I think the movie sucked — big deal, right? But did no one else see how offensive it was? In an increasingly politically-volatile climate concerning abortion, this movie gave zero justice to the controversy. Juno learns her baby might have fingernails; she couldn’t possibly get an abortion – fingernails! How quirky. By giving the fetus fingernails, it was made into a baby — just another point for the pro-life advocates.

Not surprisingly, but just as offensive, the film successfully vilified abortion clinics. The girl working the front desk at the NOW (National Organization for Women) clinic had black emo hair, face piercings and was totally apathetic. If you’ve ever been to an actual clinic, you know that the people working there are qualified, helpful and sincere — or else they wouldn’t be working at a clinic. So, Juno goes running out of the clinic because she couldn’t possibly end a life. And we hear a female protester yelling, “It’s a blessing from God!” Ugh.

Despite what Roger Ebert says, this was not one of the best films of the year. If you haven’t seen the film, you should probably give it a try. Just don’t pay for it. And after you download it for free, make sure to delete from your files permanently so you’re never tempted to watch it again. That’s what I did.

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