Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Honestly Uncomfortable- Juno

One of the most popular movies in America right now is a little film called Juno. The popularity of Juno seems unusual to me. There are no big stars. The story is not your typical teen fare. The main character, Juno, is a sixteen year old girl that becomes pregnant. The father of her child is her best friend, a geek that you would not expect to be the father of any one's baby. Paulie Bleeker, the father, is wonderful in his nerdiness. He is consumed with Juno and his high school cross country team. Paulie knows that he is in love, but Juno does not.

Juno's first inclination is to get an abortion. She decides against it, however, when she runs into a classmate protesting outside the abortion clinic and the receptionist inside turns out to be a self-absorbed, insensitive idiot. When Juno finds adoptive parents for her unborn child we get the idea that everything is going to be fine. But it is not. It turns out that the parents chosen for Juno's child have big problems of their own.

Jennifer Garner, the adoptive mother, is too perfect. Jason Bateman, her husband, is not committed to fatherhood, adoption, or even marriage for that matter. One thing leads to another and we have a disaster on our hands.

This is a really good film. I would not be surprised if it turns out to be one of my favorites for the year. But it did make me very uncomfortable. I was consistently squirming in my seat. I was not bothered by the topic. Teen promiscuity, pregnancy, abortion are all topics that I can handle emotionally. What bothered me the most was that Juno was so honest. I'm just not used to honesty in fictional film characters.

Juno has a disconcerting, matter-of-fact attitude about everything in her life. She seems oblivious to the crisis that she is in, but maintains her sense of humor. And all the time she tells it like it is. And at least initially, I didn't like it. But I didn't like it because she spoke the truth. She is young and optimistic, but also wise and realistic. Her language is authentic and somewhat base. Juno shocked me with the way she flippantly discussed sex, pregnancy, condoms, anatomy and more.

After a period of acclimation, I got used to Juno's earthiness. She grew on me. She was funny, one of the wittiest movies characters in a long time. Once I got around being shocked by her, I found Juno refreshingly honest.

In retrospect, it is interesting that I would be bothered by a character that tells the truth. After all, aren't we all supposed to be honest? Shouldn't we value truthfulness and honesty? It is a sad state of affairs when I find the most honest movie of seen in a long time to be the most uncomfortable. Oh well, maybe it's a good sign.

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