A friend of mine recently posted a comment on Facebook stating that Diablo Cody’s film, Jennifer’s Body, was rubbish. Actually, these were his exact words:
‘…seriously considered carving out my own kidneys, eyes, or reproductive organs as an acceptable alternative’.
This lead to more comments of affirmation along with other comments concerning, Juno, Diablo Cody’s first film. I will say this now, I love that movie. Now that you know this, you can understand my irritation at some comments saying that Juno ‘sucked balls’, I believe the phrase was.
Number 1: She went all the way.
Number 2: IT DIDN’T SUCK BALLS.
The argument against Juno was two-fold on this occasion.
1. That it mangled the English language.
2. That for a ‘crazy’ situation, everyone seems unemotional.
My immediate, and typed, response was that maybe this guy didn’t have the ovaries for it, because I cried like a toddler with a skinned knee at the ending.
Maybe this movie, and its use of language is like Marmite, you love it or hate it. As I’ve said, I love it. Just like I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s use of language. Its weird, wonderful, and quirky, and it makes things interesting. Its not as though it’s the Dawson’s Creek kids trying to quantify their existence at 15 with words straight out of a psychology dissertation. But even that, for a little while was the same– cool, fun, and unique. Teenagers, they talk weird. I’m not saying my friends and I talked exactly like Juno, or Buffy, but we did have our own slang and our own way of saying things. Heck, we still do. I am still known to say things out of Wayne’s World, for Pete’s sake. Even the star of Juno, Ellen Page said this same thing in an interview for The Guardian.
“I don’t speak the same way as Juno, but I definitely had my own language with my friends and in that sense I could relate to that…”
That’s the beauty of the English language, its so malleable. Its always evolving. And from living in Britain, I can tell you, some consider American English a ‘mangling’ of ‘proper’ English.
And the emotional dig–ok, I can see where he was coming from with that. I expected there to be a bit more…drama, I suppose. But I think there is emotion in the film, just not as much as we’d expect to see. Sometimes, you need humour to get through hard situations. In this movie, they’re trying to be upbeat about an awkward situation. That doesn’t involve lots of heart-felt talks and crying jags. Especially considering the main character feels abandoned by her real mom, and therefore hasn’t quite clicked with her step-mom, and her best friend is the impregnator, and her other best friend is a bit clumsy with the warm and fuzzies. In the end, though, I see some emotion there, especially the ending, especially when Juno is trying to work out what to do about her love life, and especially between Mark and Vanessa.
So, I went online and looked at some other reviews of Juno, just to see what was out there.
This site stuck out.
This is what I got from what they got (which may be wrong, I might have gotten the wrong end of the cyber-stick):
- That the film portrays women as breeders, or wanting to breed, that a woman’s sole purpose on this earth is to have children.
- That the main characters decision to have the baby and give it up for adoption, not only affirms this first point, but also shows an inclination against abortion.
- That because Juno’s biological mother is absent and estranged, Juno herself is misguided and has had her maternal instinct (if there is such a thing, and if there is, if she even had it in the first place) squashed because of this abandonment.
- This critique also paints Vanessa, the adoptive mother, as a baby-wanting freak who has no outside interests.
What I got from this film is obviously completely different, but hey, that’s art. As I see it, this film is about many things, but the main themes are these:
1. The decisions we make, and how we deal with the consequences–whether its having sex and getting pregnant, choosing between abortion and adoption, wanting to get a divorce, or wanting to raise a kid on your own;
2. That you don’t have to give birth to be a mother, and just because you give birth doesn’t make you a mother. Juno gives birth, but isn’t a mother, her biological mother isn’t really her mom, Brenda isn’t her biological mother, but for about 10 out of her 16 years has been her mom, and Vanessa can’t have a baby, but wants to be a mother and ultimately becomes one. I think it’s a bit more complicated than ‘women are breeders’. And I also think that Juno does have a female role model in Brenda, even if they don’t always get along. Sheesh, I didn’t exactly get along with my mother at 16, and she was my birth mother.
I don’t think the story has ‘outmoded moral boundaries’ because it brings up a mother leaving her daughter, or a young woman having to choose how to deal with her unplanned pregnancy–these are issues many people have today, and will have in the future. The choices the characters make are just that–choices. Because they aren’t the ones we thought she’d make, this review pegs Juno as having ‘outmoded’ morals. I understand that there have been a lot of movies recently featuring ‘the belly’. However, when I think about a woman’s right to choose–I think its exactly that, the right to make any choice, not just the one society deems appropriate. And saying, or strongly hinting, that a character in a movie should have had an abortion just because it’s more common now, or because she was a teenager, doesn’t make you a feminist. It makes you a hypocrite. In the past women were looked down on for wanting abortions. Now it seems they’re looked down on for not having them. And the average-woman-on-the-street, someone like me, who happens to like a movie where the character decides to give a baby up for adoption ‘doesn’t know what hit’ her, because apparently we’re all being sold anti-abortion sentiments from Hollywood. Maybe they are selling, but liking a simple movie doesn’t mean we’re buying;
3. That being a kid doesn’t mean you’re immature, and on the flip-side–that being an adult doesn’t mean you have everything figured out. Take Mark –the almost adoptive father—he is confronted with what he thought he wanted, only to find that it wasn’t what he wanted at all.
4. And finally, underlying everything, its about the ties that bind us. Why we make them, and why sometimes we break them. Why we love who we love. Why we fall out of love. Because as many of us know, families come in all kinds of kooky packages.
I don’t think this film answers all of life’s questions, or maybe not even the ones I’ve listed above. But I do think its a good movie, giving you lots to think about, and lots to enjoy.
And if you don’t like it, fine, make your ‘con’ blog entries, just as I’ve made my ‘pro’ one–you gotta love art that way.