Monday, January 28, 2008

Movie Chat : Juno

Warning: Contains a bazillion spoilers and opinions. If you don't want to know...stop reading.

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GramTuna and I went to see Juno a couple of weeks ago when TeenTuna had a six-hour rehearsal marathon. I saw it not so much because it was on my top ten list, but I wanted to make a preemptive strike. TeenTuna had been talking about the movie, and given the subject matter, I wanted to see it first to find out what exactly I'd be getting myself into in case she still wanted to go.

For those of you who don't know


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Juno is about a 16 year old girl who gets pregnant, decides to keep the baby and finds a young yuppiesque couple to adopt it.

To skip to the end of the movie, when the lights came up, GramTuna looked at me and said, "Well?" Which I found to be a very difficult question to answer. I would nod my head, then shake my head, then nod again, and half sigh and start all over again. Finally, for lack of anything more profound, I said, "Well, I think I liked it because I'm a grownup."

There was plenty to like about the film. Smart ass, wisecracking dialogue. Humorous jibes. Endearing characters. A positive, feel-good resolution to a difficult problem. I liked it all. The interesting thing was, all those elements were exactly what I didn't like about it. Smart ass, wisecracking dialogue. Humorous jibes. Endearing characters. A positive, feel-good resolution to a difficult problem.

And it's not like I wanted it (nor expected it) to be a horrible, gut-wrenching film full of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. To be truthful, I'm not sure what I expected, but what I got still managed to throw me for a loop.

I am the QUEEN of "it's only a movie" when people start getting all picky and technical. Everything has its own slant -- from the nightly news to documentaries to major motion pictures -- and if you can't suspend belief, then you'd be better off sitting somewhere contemplating your navel. But this was different, somehow. It wasn't like arguing the finer scientific discrepancies of Star Trek.

It's not like I couldn't accept each and every premise on its own merits. Smart ass, wisecracking dialogue? Sure, I know lots of teenagers with a wicked wit and a sharp tongue. I might, in fact, be parent to one. But in the film, despite the situation and its serious nature, the snappy comebacks from a pregnant high school junior never stopped. And while it provided plenty of chuckles, it also seemed both tiresome and sad.

The characters were all endearing, and the acting was superb. Each was sympathetic in their own way. But I often had more questions than I had answers. Nearing the end of her pregnancy, Juno grabs the car keys, saying only that she is "going out for awhile." The father's response? "Okay, kiddo."

That was it.

I'm sorry. Whatever happened to, "Where are you going?" "With whom?" "When will you be back?" In my world these are simple yet important questions for any child. Perhaps a bit more parental involvement would have provided a different outcome. But then, we wouldn't have a movie, now would we?

In the end, the baby is born, the adoption is completed, and the teenage biological parents resume their lives as if the past nine months were nothing more than a commercial break, easily ignored through the magic of the fast-forward button on their TIVO. Sure, it's all possible. And while it's wonderful and encouraging to see a positive, healthy adoption process where all parties are happy in the end, I still had to wonder...

I wondered why they never really dealt with the difficulties. What if the parents got angry? What if Juno was kicked out of the house? What if the baby's father decided to fight her decisions? What if the adoption process got messy? What if the legal dealings were shady? What if there was a problem with the birth? What if there were problems with the baby?

What if?

As one-sidedly happy and upbeat as the film was, it would be equally one-sided to have a story that was filled with nothing but problems. But truthfully speaking, either end of the spectrum is entirely possible, with several hundred scenarios in the middle being highly probable.

Like I said, I enjoyed this film because I am a grownup. Would I let TeenTuna see it? Sure. And then we'd have a big long talk because she doesn't have the benefit of decades of perspective. I'd tell her life isn't always that easy. Resolutions aren't always neat and tidy. Major physical and emotional events aren't easily forgotten in a short time period. Many stay with you for life, or hopefully they do, because that's how we learn. Sure, it's great fun to suspend belief, but as we grow up, it's important to remember that there is always another side to the story. If not in the movies, than most definitely in real life.

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