Jump to content

Recommended Posts

: The notion that kids -- even smart and sarcastic ones -- talk like Juno is a lie only thirtysomething filmmakers and fiftysomething movie critics could buy.

But as the writer of this sentence already admitted in his article, Diablo Cody is currently 29, and not in her 30s. And she wrote the script a year or two ago. And Ellen Page, the actress who PLAYS Juno, was 19 when filming began (she may have been 20 by the end of the shoot, but at the time when she selected the music that was used within the film -- the incident that sparked the article -- she was presumably still in her teens).

Personally, I don't see why stylized dialogue and non-stop quippery is such an issue for people. It's been a while since I last saw a Preston Sturges film, and I wouldn't say that Diablo Cody is the same KIND of stylist that he was, but surely stylized dialogue, per se, has a long and glorious pedigree going back at least that far?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 148
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Oh, and I forgot to mention, Jason Reitman was 29 during the filming of this movie, too, and possibly 28 when he first became attached to the project. (He turned 30 in October, after this film had already played a few festivals.) So he's not a "thirtysomething", either.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The level of dialogue may be heightened, but it is not fundamentally unrealistic. To my ear, and maybe I just hung out with a smart set, but Juno reminds me of real people I knew in high school and college. Maybe not all the time, every line, but for the most part any given line of Juno could not unreasonably be attributed to a real kid of sufficient wit.

Furthermore, Juno is a comedy, with voiceover narration by the main character and a lot of narrative conceits. Absolute realism isn't necessarily the goal. (And I think it's at least arguably a far more credible picture of teen pregnancy than, say, Away From Her is of Alzheimer's... and that film isn't a comedy.)

I credit Juno's final decision to go with Bleeker a lot more than Popechild, although I agree that the film doesn't quite pull off here what it's trying to. For me, though, the most unnervingly credible thing in the film is neither Juno and Bleeker, nor Mark and Vanessa, but Juno and Mark. Juno has exactly the right blend of maturity and naivete to create that massive blind spot, the maturity to know that if she were in her thirties, she would view sixteen-year-olds as kids in a different social strata from herself, and therefore the naivete to think that she can socialize with him with impunity and nothing can possibly happen.

More later....

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have no problem with quippery. But in a film that strives to strike some kind of realism, it is distracting to have 16-year-olds making references to "Soupy Sales" as casually as they might mention iPods. Sure, kids are saturated with pop culture, but not pop culture references from all eras. When today's sixteen-year-olds think of Hollywood Squares, they probably don't think of Charles Nelson Reilly (unless they're thinking of Alec Baldwin's impersonation of Reilly... and even that is about ten years old now, right?)

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

And for all of my fuss about the dialogue here, I do *love* the movie. And SDG, I completely agree with you about Juno and Mark. Yikes. As soon as they started talking about guitars, I started feeling sick to my stomach.

Edited by Jeffrey Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Jeffrey Overstreet wrote:

: Sure, kids are saturated with pop culture, but not pop culture references from all eras.

I dunno. My siblings and I grew up watching Bob Hope and Danny Kaye movies from the '40s and '50s. (And, curiously, we did NOT watch some of their more popular films; I have seen virtually every film Danny Kaye made in those decades, EXCEPT for White Christmas, which I have only seen a few minutes of; and I didn't get around to watching ANY of the Road movies that Hope made with Bing Crosby until a few years ago.) And we played these videos whenever friends of ours came over. So entire cliques of grade-school (and then high-school) students grew up knowing obscure pop-culture references from movies that came out when their PARENTS were children.

I don't find it so impossible to believe that Juno might have grown up with a similar eye or ear for the out-there, obscure, dated, whatever. Especially in this 24-hour-movie-channel, all-internet-all-the-time world that we live in.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The unthinkable shmashmortion

As for these movie plots, several women's health specialists I contacted described them as "extremely unrealistic."

But could they also be part of a subtle attitudinal shift against abortion that conservative thinkers like David Frum are calling for? Mr. Frum, in his new book Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again, prescribes "education and persuasion ... rather than changes in law" in the continuing fight against abortion.

Judith Timson, Globe and Mail, January 15

- - -

So if this film is merely pro-life, rather than anti-abortion ... does that mean it's being ... sneaky?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...
Personally, I don't see why stylized dialogue and non-stop quippery is such an issue for people. I

As I stated earlier - that was what I loved about the film. The whole point of dialogue written by creative people is we see characters being "larger than life" in their ability to turn a phrase - that's what makes it interesting. I have some witty friends that I love to spend time with for just that ability - it does things to my brain as the words themselves become part of the action. Whether Jeffrey's college friends talk like that or find it annoying has little sway with me thinking this character is wonderful.

What I also liked was that it was not a message film with a point of view about abortion or adoption but rather a "walk-through-the-experience" in a novel and authentic way.

Denny

Since 1995 we have authored a commentary on film, cinema in focus. Though we enjoy cinema as an art form, our interests lie not so much in reviewing a film as in beginning a conversation about the social and spiritual values presented. We, therefore, often rate a film higher or lower due to its message rather than its quality of acting or film-making.

Cinema In Focus Website

Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara Website

Link to post
Share on other sites
but it is purporting to tell a realistic story in a natural way.)

I suppose that is where we would differ. I don't see it telling a realistic story in a natural way. I would put it more in the category of Lars and the Real Girl. It tells a story but with such an interesting twist to it that it opens the subject up in a new and creative way.

Denny

Since 1995 we have authored a commentary on film, cinema in focus. Though we enjoy cinema as an art form, our interests lie not so much in reviewing a film as in beginning a conversation about the social and spiritual values presented. We, therefore, often rate a film higher or lower due to its message rather than its quality of acting or film-making.

Cinema In Focus Website

Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara Website

Link to post
Share on other sites

FWIW, as of this weekend, Juno has $100.2 million in the till, and has thus crossed that all-important century mark. Its week-to-week grosses actually went UP a few percentage points this week, despite playing in slightly LESS theatres -- the power of being nominated for four of the top Oscars, perhaps?

I can't help also noting that director Jason Reitman has an Oscar nomination for Best Director, whereas his father Ivan has NEVER been nominated for an Oscar. And FWIW, Juno has already outgrossed all but three of Ivan Reitman's films -- the three holdouts (for now) being Twins (1988, $111.9 million), Ghostbusters II (1989, $112.5 million) and Ghostbusters (1984, $238.6 million). Juno will presumably pass two of those films within the next week. (Reitman also produced, but did not direct, National Lampoon's Animal House, 1978, $141.6 million -- and back then, that was real money!)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The debate continues over at Jim Emerson's blog. Read the comments, too.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

Link to post
Share on other sites

This commentary by Jim DeRogatis, accusing the film of "glib insincerity" made me very angry:

Dawson first made her name beside Adam Green as half of the Moldy Peaches, but that band went on hiatus in 2003. Since then, she’s been a prolific solo artist, pausing only to give birth to a daughter named Panda Delilah in 2006. Dawson attempts to channel her own inner infant with deliberately sing-song vocals, beyond-amateurish musicianship and faux-juvenile lyrics. A sample from “Loose Lips,” which powers a key scene in the movie:

“So if you wanna burn yourself remember that I love you/And if you wanna cut yourself remember that I love you/And if you wanna kill yourself remember that I love you/Call me up before you’re dead, we can make some plans instead/Send me an IM, I’ll be your friend.”

Those lines treat the very real problem of teen suicide with the same glib insincerity that “Juno” adopts while addressing teen pregnancy. Reitman may be right when he says the movie found its ideal soundtrack.

Now I don't expect most people, especially aging mainstream rock critics, to get what Kimya is about. But it's disgusting to me that he would question her sincerity in caring about the young people who listen to her songs. That's out of bounds. I've seen her counsel troubled teenagers sitting out on the front lawn of the venue before concerts. The first time we met, we talked about our past jobs as camp counselors. She's an incredible human, as unpretentious and sincere as they come.

Personal defense of Kimya aside, this does relate to the film. Mark is identified with 90's alternative rock. He wears a Soundgarden t-shirt. He has fantasies of rock-star fame. Juno's character is identified with Kimya, a brainy dorky lady who is totally unconcerned with being fashionable, whose work affirms vulnerability, and orients us towards compassionate and humane ways of living.

As Jessica Hopper wrote, "It got right the Minnesota moms in turtlenecks, and served 90's cool-grunge what it was due."

Edited by Holy Moly!
Link to post
Share on other sites

Finally saw Juno this afternoon.

With the exception of the “nesting” conversation between the adoptive parents and the more tender-hearted scenes toward the end, people simply don’t talk to each other like they do in many parts of Juno. Other than that, it's a sweet film with a warm heart. I can see why people like it. It’s like the Gilmore Girls – if you can get past the unreality of how they’re speaking to each other, you can like the story. And the story in Juno is warm indeed.

I did think that the last minute, with its song and zoom out and runners and kiss, was a stunning, perfect shot and ending, especially after the feel of the soundtrack throughout the rest of the film.

I also thought that it was cool that the story disguises itself as a teenage pregnancy movie only to deliver a very fine love story. It took a very nice direction in this way.

It is a nice film. But nice films don’t win Oscars.

[EDIT]

Just reading back through the thread and I found this:

Since when was the golden criteria for dialogue realism? Nobody talks like Tarantino's characters do either, but his dialogue is often what people love about his movies.

I think the difference here is that we knew, in Pulp Fiction, even from the opening score, that this was going to be a bit of a fantasy, or at least a blending of fantasy with events that could be real. But in Juno, every element of this film, save the dialogue, tries to relay a very real and possible event.

And then you have the dialogue.

It just doesn't fit in.

Edited by stef

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

Link to post
Share on other sites

stef wrote:

: I think the difference here is that we knew, in Pulp Fiction, even from the opening score, that this was going to be a bit of a fantasy, or at least a blending of fantasy with events that could be real. But in Juno, every element of this film, save the dialogue, tries to relay a very real and possible event.

And yet ... those animated opening credits ... and the music playing over them ...

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Other than that, it's a sweet film with a warm heart.

I think this undersells it by a good bit.

I don't know that I've ever seen a film (not saying there isn't one, but I haven't seen it) as shrewd about what can go wrong in a seemingly safe relationship between a smart, naive teenaged girl and a charming older married man -- certainly not from the girl's POV.

It is a nice film. But nice films don

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Link to post
Share on other sites

For me, the title sequence says "this is trying to be hip", not "this is fantasy". Maybe if there was some fantasy element within the animation itself, then that would help.

I saw Juno again last night, and I don't think I can really hold out on my earlier comments, where I criticized the movie's

romantic

conclusion. It works better when you know what's coming. Then again, it still doesn't create much appeal for the movie either, for me -- it's the Mark and Vanessa side of the story, which SDG rightly praises, which is what makes the movie worth thinking and talking about.

Interestingly, my screenwriting teacher also said that it's this part of the story was what made the movie good, in his eyes; and he said that he was ticked that after the crisis in this story -- the scene in which

Mark and Vanessa begin the divorce

-- there was so much more movie to go. Like I said, I'm no longer bothered by the ending, but it's interesting that what turned me off for more subjective reasons bothers him for structural ones.

Edited by David Smedberg

That's just how eye roll.

Link to post
Share on other sites

To me, the stylized dialogue in Pulp Fiction worked because the situations that the characters are in are ones that most people don't frequently see every day except in the film genres that it was working with. Juno, on the other hand, was dealing with a situation that one could hear about at school, in the neighbourhood, even just walking around the grocery store. So while I admired the dialogue as a writer, it bothered me in terms of the film itself because the situation they presented was more relatable and realistic (for lack of a better word), and therefore I wanted her to be realistic. She seemed like the too-perfect indie character to me -- the witty responses, the slightly off clothing, the extensive knowledge of bands and films that most teenagers have never heard of... put together I thought it was just a bit much. But that being said, I did really like the film. Personally, I also really related to the Vanessa, Mark, and Juno story more so than the Juno/Michael Cera (I'm forgetting character name at the moment) story.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Other than that, it's a sweet film with a warm heart.

I think this undersells it by a good bit.

I don't know that I've ever seen a film (not saying there isn't one, but I haven't seen it) as shrewd about what can go wrong in a seemingly safe relationship between a smart, naive teenaged girl and a charming older married man -- certainly not from the girl's POV.

The term "warm" doesn't undersell it, if anything, it is lenient. In the last twenty minutes it tries to make up for over an hour of Juno's so-called "wittiness." However, in the scene when she meets her adoptive parents, it is a stretch to call some of her retorts "witty." She acted more like a rambunctious, immature child, and her tone had a teenage, smart-alec ring. Some of her retorts were even downright mean.

Juno's actions could be mean, as well. She was mean to her "boyfriend," she was mean to her mother... Throwing up in an urn is supposed to be humorous?

I don't know why this character simply wouldn't go ahead with the abortion. In many other cases in her life, she does what she wants and won't be convinced otherwise.

I also don't believe that after she had the baby, she wouldn't have at least wanted to hold it, much less keep it. We know she cared for the baby, and we know that she is rather uncontrollable. I don't see any reason to believe that she wouldn't fall in love with it on the spot and keep it for herself.

The more I think of it, Juno is really not a "nice" film at all, and I think I'd rather rewatch Chicago, Gladiator or Titanic for the spectacle itself, rather than sit through a film that has no real foundation in anything real.

I don't think the animation says "fantasy." I do think it says "stylized, not as realistic as possible."

Maybe so. But the events are all to real to all too many of us. The story at its heart is clearly not fantasy.

(Until the dialogue gives way to it.)

PS. Was the abortion clinic scene also stylized? Because the unprofessionalism represented there was certainly over the top.

Edited by stef

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, Stef, you've taken your curmudgeon pills today -- you sound like me ragging on 3:10 to Yuma or Away From Her. :)

I think the case has been made that the film certainly has a solid and even well-planted "foundation in reality." Some ornamental flourishes on the structure built on that foundation are no threat to that.

As for your dismissive take on Juno's character, well, file me with Victor Morton on that one (and other stuff):

Juno (unlike, say, Enid in GHOST WORLD, the kind of movie Noel knew I hate) is a *lovable* character because her wit isn

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Link to post
Share on other sites
Wow, Stef, you've taken your curmudgeon pills today -- you sound like me ragging on 3:10 to Yuma or Away From Her. :)

You know, I actually did like Juno. Just got to thinking a little more afterwards, I guess.

fundamentally good person, albeit a very sassy one

Maybe I can live with this take.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Just got to thinking a little more afterwards, I guess.

This is always a problem with movies that don't live up to the hype. The other problem is not trying to take too hard a line against the film when the 100th person you know tells you how adorable the film is.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...