Is Juno Any Damn Good?
May 27th, 2014
(The shortened opening)
NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic, I remember it so you don't have to. In 2007, a little movie came out called Juno.
(Footage of Juno is shown. The library track "Valse Aux Champs-Elysees" by Daniel Jean Jeannin plays throughout)
NC (vo): It was a comedy about a suburban high school girl who gets pregnant, decides to give in to another person, and all the pros and cons of going through such an experience. Critics seemed to like it, it put several young actors and actresses on the map, and the audience reception seemed to be good, too. Actually, really good. Like, every fucking person was talking about this movie for a really, really long time. "Have you seen Juno?" "You gotta see Juno." "It opened my eyes to so many goddamn fucking things!"
NC: Really? This quirky little...
NC (vo): ...comedy about a pregnant teenage girl? Well, okay, it may not be Oscar-worthy and everything, but...
(Cut to a shot of a woman kissing an Oscar statuette)
NC (vo): ...holy shit, it seems to be Oscar-worthy and everything, winning Best Original Screenplay...
(Cut to a poster for Juno, with four Oscar nominations)
NC (vo): ...and nominated for three others, including Best Picture! Goddamn, this movie was on fire for a while!
(Cut back to the film itself)
NC (vo): But, as its popularity got bigger and bigger, then came the inevitable backlash. But this isn't Twilight backlash or Transformers backlash, where a certain audience hated it from the very beginning. This was a backlash from its very own fans. The movie didn't change, it remained exactly the same as it was before, with no sequel or remakes or anything like that being done. Yet the same people who said they loved the film just a few months ago were suddenly revisiting it and realizing, maybe it wasn't the big game changer that they thought it was. The term "Junoing" had started to come about, (the phrase "You Juno'd it." pops up) meaning, when you look back at something (the phrase "I what?" pops up) you thought you loved, (the phrase "You took something that I loved and pointed out everything that was wrong about it and made me hate it." pops up) but then realized it wasn't that great to begin with. Though the film is still well-known, thoughts about it still remain kind of jumbled: was it really a groundbreaking film, or did we all get wrapped up in the moment of a movie coming out in the right culture at the right time? I'll admit, I was kinda shocked at the attention the film was suddenly getting. I actually thought the director's previous comedy...
(Cut to a shot of a poster for...)
NC (vo): ...Thank You For Smoking was much more groundbreaking and took a lot more chances.
(Back to Juno)
NC (vo): I think, for many people, it struck a chord because a story like this had never really been told quite in this way. Oh, don't get me wrong...
(Cut to a montage of posters for movies about giving birth: She's Having a Baby, Baby On Board, and Baby Mama)
NC (vo): ...the story of somebody giving is old as time itself.
(Back to Juno)
NC (vo): But this film seemed to come at it from a slightly different point of view. Most comedies of this nature...
(Cut briefly to Father of the Bride 2)
NC (vo): ... focus on the adults and how much they overreact to the pregnancy.
(Back once again to Juno)
NC (vo): But here, not only is the focus on the girl who got pregnant, but the parents have a totally calm, if not surprisingly logical, talk about it.
(The main heroine, Juno MacGuff, is shown talking with her father and stepmother)
Bren MacGuff: I didn't even know that you were sexually active.
Mac MacGuff: Who's the father?
Juno: It's Paulie Bleeker.
Mac: Paulie Bleeker?
Mac: I didn't think he had it in him.
Leah: I know, right?
Mac: You thinking about adoption?
Juno: Yeah, yeah.
NC (vo): There's no tears, there's no screaming, there's just... well, none of the stuff you normally see in movies. And this reaction alone took a lot of people by surprise. Is this how it is now? Parents don't even get that angry when this stuff happens? Well, wait, maybe the idea is, they know she's already putting herself through enough heartache over this that they know not to make the pain even worse. Is that it? Was that the intention? It's hard to say what exactly they were going for and whether or not they're supposed to be accepted as these great, logical parents or these terrible, under-caring parents. But whatever your thought, this reaction seemed to be the kickoff to the movie's very different tone, the tone being that the hardships of teen pregnancy aren't ignored, they're... just kinda... looked at as very commonplace. Again, many people debated: is this really how it is now? And if so, should it be this way? Is it better to be calmer and more collected over this situation, or is it being so easygoing that they're emphasizing it was never that big a deal to begin with? This is part of the debate that splits people into the love or hate camps. Another part of that debate: the writing. Many people praise the writer for capturing the language of our youth, while others say it's pretty gimmicky and ridiculously awkward.
Leah: (on the phone) Juno?
Juno: (on her hamburger phone) No, it's Morgan Freeman. Do you have any bones that need collecting?
Leah: What? Honest to blog?
Juno: I'm forshizz up the spout.
NC (vo): The character of Juno is a love-her-or-hate-her scenario. Many claim that she's rather grating to listen, trying to look cool and pouty throughout the whole experience. I think that's kinda true, but I also think it's intentional. A lot of kids around that age try to act like an obvious big deal is not an obvious big deal. It's their way of dodging emotion that, yeah, at times can be a little annoying, but for some, it's not bad enough for her to be unlikeable or, more importantly, unrelatable.
NC: Another factor, though, is the moment that I like to call, the "What the fuck are you doing?" moments.
NC (vo): These are pretty self-explanatory: the moments of a quirky film that are trying so goddamn hard to be quirky and different that you just say, "What the fuck are you doing?"
(Cut to a clip of the tiger-themed rug)
Paulie: Wicked tiger. He looks proud.
Juno: I swiped it from Ms. Rancick's lawn.
NC (vo): What the fuck are you doing?
(Cut to a clip of Juno's pregnancy)
Doctor: I just see a lot of teenage mothers come through here. It's obviously a poisonous environment to raise a baby in.
NC (vo): What the fuck are you doing?
(Cut to a clip of Juno and her father dancing)
Mac: (putting her hands on his neck) Put your hands... there. And my hands down here.
(He puts his hands on her stomach, which is clearly protruding from the baby bump)
NC (vo): WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?!
Mac: How do you think of me? (Juno looks embarrassed, about to cry) You know, why are you over here?
NC (vo): Yeah, all of these moments never seem to further anything and never seem needed. They just seem to exist to give the movie a quirky identity or just to do something different you didn't see coming, even with the underground art house comic drawings.
(Clips of the movie's art house drawing style are shown)
NC (vo): The short use of them really doesn't seem to add much to the movie's identity, outside of just clarifying that the movie wants an identity. Those elements just don't seem essential. (the drawing clips end) This doesn't seem like a movie that heavily needs to ride its style. It's good enough just to ride on the characters and tone alone. But that still brings up the question: "Does it ride on its character and tone alone?" Looking back, I think one of the reasons people gravitated towards it is because so many people thought this was speaking for all current teen pregnancies. "This is how it is." "This is how pregnant teens want to be and should be treated." "It's a handbook for how to deal with such a largely visible taboo!" But, truth be told, I don't think it should be looked at like that. Every pregnancy is different, no matter what age or background. And everybody is going to have a different way of responding to it. To say this movie is speaking for an entire generation of young people seems...
Juno: Paulie Bleeker is totally boss. / Geez, Banana! Shut your freakin' gob, okay?!
NC (vo): ...pretty damn silly. But I think if it's looked at as not how all teen pregnancies go, but rather how just this one went, it still seems like a decent flick. There's a lot of heart, a lot of good intentions, and even some pretty good performances snuck in there. With that said, it shouldn't be a surprise if somebody doesn't like it. It has a lot of unneeded gimmicks that seemed too dated with every passing year. But I don't know if there's enough to make it hate-worthy. If it's seen as the voice of pregnant teenagers all over the world, it's probably building up a false expectation. But if it's seen as the voice of one pregnant teenager, the one we're focusing on in this film, I think it's innocent enough. Will it be seen as a cinematic classic years from now? I guess only time can tell on that one. But hey, if the word "boss" can come back into style, fuck it, I guess the birth of anything is totally possible.
NC: I'm the Nostalgia Critic; I remember it because I fucking want (points to camera) that hamburger phone! (sits there, waiting expectantly; nothing happens) Somebody get me that hamburger phone! (still, nothing happens) I'm not leaving until you do. (folds his hands, still waiting) Cut to the credits! See if it makes a di–
(The video cuts off; credits roll)