Thursday, January 10, 2008

Juno What I Mean?

If you haven't seen "Juno" yet, return to enjoy this discussion after you have seen it.

Seriously.

Don't cry to me that I ruined the movie for you. Stop reading NOW, and come back when you can talk about it.

OK?

Now.

"Juno" is a decent movie that deserves to exist.

Still, I find myself agreeing more with this review, which I read before viewing "Juno", and which may have skewed my opinion:

...Juno just seems like something that's here to show us all that it's time to move on from the dominant "indie" aesthetic of the past seven years and figure out something for the next decade. Juno has its moments, and Ellen Page is pretty remarkable in the title role, but the script is nothing special -- much of the snarky humor is just warmed-over quips in the style of Joss Whedon and Amy Sherman-Palladino, and most of the movie comes across like an extremely dumbed-down prequel to Gilmore Girls. It really doesn't help matters that the art direction and soundtrack are fucking terrible, even when they throw in unimpeachable tunes by Belle & Sebastian and Cat Power. When you get beyond the slightness of the story, the big problem here is that anything that could be considered charming and novel in the film is just past its cultural expiration date. A lot of Juno would've worked really well if it came out six years ago, but at this point in time, it's just tired, deeply unimaginative, and a bit embarrassing, as if one of your friends ran out over the weekend and got a "more cowbell!" tattoo on their arm.

Between that criticism and the movie's does-anyone-really-talk-like-that dialogue ("Honest to blog?!"), it was impossible NOT to watch "Juno" in a hyper-aware state. As a result, several plot details seemed off:

1. The 30-something, well-to-do professionals Juno seeks out to adopt her child live in St. Cloud, Minnesota. I have yet to find a good reason for childless, 30-something, well-to-do professionals to live within 30 minutes of St. Cloud.

2. Juno is heard to remark, "Thundercats are go!", meshing the trademark phrases of "Thundercats ho!" and "Thunderbirds are go!" from television series that were cancelled (a year before and decades prior to, respectively) her birth.

3a. Juno loves punk music: she cites 1977 as her favorite music year, and Iggy Pop & The Stooges as her favorite band. Yet when she and her boyfriend jam, they play and sing twee, acoustic anti-folk by The Moldy Peaches?

3b. How does this 16 year-old have encyclopedic knowledge of '70s punk and kitchy television while simultaneously LACKING any information about Sonic Youth, a band that is STILL producing music, who have had hits DURING Juno's lifetime? Maybe you'll just have to trust me on this, but there is NO WAY someone can sing The Moldy Peaches AND draw a blank on Sonic Youth.

Again, I will repeat that I thought the movie was OK. My major complaint has nothing to do with the trivial issues above -- it just could have been funnier.

3 comments:

lindsey said...

i have to say that i had the EXACT same critique of this movie. I enjoyed it, however I was disappointed that is wasn't funnier. We should be friends and jam Sonic Youth

casey elizabeth said...

i liked it. i don't read what other people have to say about movies before seeing them (or after), which always makes for a far better viewing experience. i agree with the seemingly off plot points, but i enjoyed the dialogue and juno reminds me a lot of my youngest sister and her quirky group of friends. they try to cling onto former pop cultural icons without getting the full context because they weren't really around for them. i think that does make sense. i was (am) one of those kids.

i have had 24 years of music nerdom without getting into sonic youth. i swear to you i didn't even know who they were until i was 20 and working at kjhk and feeling like i had to claim that i knew and liked sonic youth in order to fit in. the truth is i don't. so there's that too.

i loved the soundtrack. dan, did you get that review from the pompous twerps at pitchfork media?

dn said...

Linds: Yes, we should be friends. Friends that tell each other that they have blogs.

Case-Case: The review is from Fluxblog. Subsequent research has revealed another review here, that represents my feelings a bit better.

I thought there were some OK songs on the soundtrack, but too much of the movie was framed with music. Every time a acoustic folk ditty ended, another one began.