Wednesday, January 9, 2008

10 Best Films of 2007: #5 - Juno

I had bad thoughts during the opening moments of Juno. I labeled it as throwaway hipster dialogue that served no purpose other than to congratulate itself on how smart it was. A self aware film that proved nothing other than another entry into the already crowded genre of the modern independent comedy, ala Napoleon Dynamite and Rushmore. I mean I GET it, the character of Juno (Ellen Page) is hip, she’s cool, she’s post modern and self aware, she drinks Sunny D straight from the carton and walks (half animated, half live action) through her town to the tunes of some indie songstress. Oh and she lives in a room, that to call kitschy is an understatement…plus she has a hamburger telephone. We then get the scene where she calls someone and tells them to hold on because the sound is cutting out on her hamburger phone. We get it! We can see the phone right there. You don’t have to draw attention to it.

But this sounds like I hate the movie. I don’t. I love it. It was a bright spot among many dark (but great) films this year. The movie (once you get past those rough first fifteen minutes) is a delight to watch and the characters are perfectly human, people we feel like we interact with everyday. The difference between Juno and Rushmore or Napoleon Dynamite is that the central character, Juno, is not a caricature like Max Fischer or Napoleon, but is based in reality. Giving weight (no pun intended) to the performance is Ellen Page, who is sly and steely but also warm and real. You feel like you have come across a girl like that before.

There are moments of true insight into what it’s like as a teenager trying to be more adult, or what we may think of Jennifer Gardner (until a crucial and touching scene in a mall, where we realize along with Juno, that Gardner’s character is not as icy as originally thought) and her husband played Jason Bateman.

There are some moments that touch deeply upon the hard decisions people have to make; especially teenagers who are thrust into adulthood when they think they're ready, but find they are not. It’s a great experience that by the end of the film you realize, hey, the parents of Juno (JK Simons and Alison Janney) acted like normal parents, not like teen sex comedy caricatures, and the moment when she drops off a letter for Jennifer Garner after a crucial moment in the end of the film…a moment that in 90% of movies like this would have been horribly conventional and groan inducing, seems just about perfect and surprisingly not contrived. It’s amazing that a film could convert me so quickly. After 15 minutes (which aren't so bad that I couldn't place it on here) I was ready to hate it, and then I became one of its biggest cheerleaders.


  1. i agree. this film was awesome. Also i want to see into the wild. the book was great and i want to see the movie. i think i will find these kevin olson movie ratings invaluable to my movie watching selections. Especially since i haven't seen several of your tops.