Monday, March 3, 2008

One movie review by Alison Ross

"Juno": A Barren Affair
by Alison Ross

So I had some time to kill on a flight back from San Francisco (lovely city, but too damn chilly), and I decided to slay it with a flick. I truly miss the halcyon daze when the already-inflated price of a plane ticket actually afforded you a meal and a movie on board. Now you gotta pay for both, dammit, and I’ve no doubt that the Delta execs still swim in the loot, while us hapless proletariats pick at seat-crumbs and attempt to entertain ourselves jitterbugging to turbulence and avidly anticipating the seatbelt sign de-illumination. But I digress.

So anyway, long story short: I swiped my card for "Juno." Six bucks for an Oscar-nommed celluloid feature can’t go to waste, I figger. But oh, how wrong I was. I mean, would someone please tell me why critics and the masses alike are lactating all over this film? It’s way too self-consciously “hip” and it’s fluffy as cotton candy to boot. Now I have no prob with fluffy flicks, but this film has pretenses toward Something Deep, and I hate that. The soundtrack, a nauseatingly cutesy pseudo-indie concoction, is spattered all over the film (seriously, those songs sound like Suzanne Vega’s fetuses singing (don’t get me wrong - Vega is talented, but her fetuses are not) ), and the dialogue is saturated with oh-so-clever teen colloquialisms. Yeah, sure, the actress who plays Juno is pretty good, but she AIN’T worth no Oscar nom, given that she basically stole her shtick from the much-savvier Genene Garafalo anyway, and she sure as hell don’t look 16 (cuz she ain’t).

And another thing. I realize that it’s perfectly valid to make a film about a debutante who gets knocked up and decides against abortion in favor of adoption, since those things do happen. I also realize that such movies don’t mandatorially have to have a political dimension. But dammit, the flick almost seems to propagate some sort of subliminal subtext to induce people into negating the option of abortion. For as ambivalent as I am about abortion, it goes against women’s rights to dissuade it or, gasp, prohibit it, and abortion is CERTAINLY often a more humane option than giving the baby up for adoption, given the epidemic surplus of unwanted children, and given that a child who is lucky enough to be adopted will often suffer severe self-esteem defecits. I’m not against adoption at all, of course, and I have adopted friends who are healthy and happy, but it’s just plain sick to suggest that giving a kid up for adoption is inherently more humane than aborting the fetus. There are certainly times for both, but don’t make sweeping statements that adoption is typically the “better” choice. At least, that’s what I got from the film. Perhaps "Juno" is just an anti-abortion propaganda film dressed up in trendy disguise?

Or perhaps I am completely misguided and the film is simply showing the consequences of choice. Either way, it felt contrived to send some sort of coded message about abortion as an unsavory option.

Of course, some critics have embraced the character of Juno as being a feminist hero owing to her sassy confidence and feisty independence. But then, Juno’s clinging to an older male and the film’s romantic culimation kind of decimate that theory altogether, huh?

And don’t get me started on the rambling story, weak parallel plot or the tepid acting by just about everyone else in the film.

Really, I might well have just bought a cocktail with that six bucks and drunkenly played inflight trivia the entire time. That likely was an activity more pregnant with possibility than the barren "Juno."

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