Monday, February 11, 2008

That's Random: Why I Didn't Like Juno

Nick and I finally caught Juno, and we were truly excited to see it. I have to say, though, that I really didn't like it -- in a strong, well, dislike kind of way. Afterwards, we both jumped online to re-read the reviews and try to figure out why everyone on the planet is falling all over themselves about this movie. (We're still mystified, but for what it's worth we did find one critic who perfectly summed up our conflicted feelings about the film.)

It's not that I didn't get it. I like winsomely quirky indie fare about so-geeky-they're-totally-awesome teens with winsomely quirky indie soundtracks just as much as the next aging wannabe (but-never-really-was) hipster. I mean, Napoleon Dynamite is actually one of my favorite movies ever. But Juno? Stop drinking the Kool-Aid, people.

Don't get me wrong -- I love that a movie written by an ex-stripper about a smart, dorky girl has made over 100 million bucks and has people lining up at the cineplex. I'll grant you that the performances, without fail, were lovely: Ellen Page, as the titular knocked-up 11th grader, was luminous. (She's equally impressive as a barely pubescent avenging angel in the sort of disturbing Hard Candy.) Jason Bateman was perfect as the initially super-cool, ultimately sad and creepy adoptive dad who you don't know if you want to punch or, like, make out with. Jennifer Garner? Surprisingly excellent. J.K. Simmons? Wish I had a dad like that. And I'll watch Michael Cera in anything -- even in those yellow shorts.

But from the self-consciously twee music (much of it by Kimya Dawson of the Moldy Peaches and Antsy Pants -- how's that for precious?) to the equally twee illustrated opener to the absolutely ridiculous dialogue that by all rights would get you flunked out of Screenwriting 101, Juno seriously bugged me. "This is one doodle that can't be un-did, Homeskillet" -- from the guy behind the counter at the drugstore, no less, who of course is played with a generous ladling of irony by Rainn Wilson? Pardon me while I retch -- I think I have an eye-rolling-induced migraine.

To me, Juno is like a cute, smart, funny, talented guy who just tries way too hard to be cool and clever, and winds up being really annoying as a result. (Like, I don't know ... John Mayer.) And for this, the movie gets Best Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture Oscar nominations? Please put down the crack pipe, Academy voters.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go watch My So-Called Life on DVD.

(Thanks to Jim DeRogatis of the Chicago Sun-Times for mentioning this post in one of his own critiques of the movie. Juno-haters of the world unite!)

P.S. Speaking of annoying viewing experiences and dumb award shows, how unbearably ass-y was the Grammys last night? Even knowing that it would, as always, be totally lame -- and recording the broadcast so we could fast-forward through the whole thing in, like, half an hour -- it was painful.

The only performances that didn't have us peeking out from behind our hands in cringing horror were Feist, who seemed to be making an effort to minimize the cheese factor by keeping it stripped down; the Foo Fighters, who are always effortlessly kickass (though I thought the John Paul Jones-conducted orchestra accompanying them was sort of pointless); and Amy Winehouse, who barely seemed to know where she was, but who was sort of glorious in her smacked-out way nonetheless. (How long do you think before she's dead, or at least completely toothless? I'm taking bets over here.)

And wait -- the White Stripes win two awards, and they don't even show them? Just one minute of endearing Jack-and-Meg awkwardness would have gone a long way toward making the rest of that sad snoozefest worth watching, IMHO.

Agree? Disagree? Discuss.


Anonymous said...

I saw Juno last Monday. I was so excited to see it after hearing how fabulous both the movie and the soundtrack was. Within minutes of the opening credits, I wondered what was wrong with me...why did it seem like I was the only one on earth who wanted to bail within the first 30 mins. I just didn't find it that funny or all that clever...Perhaps I'm weird but thanks for making me feel better Leah.

Pigtown*Design said...

I could barely watch Amy Wino with all of her twitching and picking. And then when she won SOng of the year, and gave a shout to Blake, i couldn't believe she even knew how to say incarcerated. But she did also give a shout to poor Camden Market which just burned... along with her favourite pub.

Kristi said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who hated Juno. I think you summed it up perfectly.

Unknown said...

I didn't like Juno very much either. Thought it was way too precious--when Juno brought out the hamburger phone, I was lost. There were some parts that were touching, like when Jennifer Garner was talking to Juno's stomach at the mall. I actually burst into tears at that point, as I wanted to get pregnant myself at that time. What I didn't know then was that I (probably) ended up conceiving that day! Coincidence or not...? ;)

min hus said...

Ouch. I just saw Juno a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. I thought it was a cute film, not a contender for the best movie EVER, but something that gave me a nice warm fuzzy feeling. I thought the dialog was quite clever and I even teared up toward the end. Although I somehow missed out on the hype and had no expectations going in.

Anonymous said...

The dialogues did not ring true whatsoever. This is not how teenagers speak, and it also bugged me that teenagers might think they too would have Juno's complete lack of ambivalence or emotion towards the baby. But hey, if that means a certain lousy movie about a cold-blooded killer doesn't get the award, then i'm fine with Juno getting it.

Do you remember that greek-wedding movie? I didn't get the success of it either.

Anonymous said...

I had mixed emotions about Juno. Just read that a stripper wrote it, so that's someone who isn't really in touch with right/wrong. No, the kids didn't act like kids. More like someone who was in that situation as a kid, freaked out as a kid would, and wished this was the way they had handled it. Just a guess, of course. I don't ever need to see it again. However, "cautionary whale" will make me laugh for a long, long time.

Anonymous said...

I'm just happy that people are finally getting around to noticing that the movie ISN'T great, and that if you don't like it, it's not because you don't 'get' it. It's overwritten, unbelievable, cheesy, and obnoxious. Maybe there are people who talk like that in real life, but if there are, they probably don't have any friends, because no one could stand to listen to anyone go on like that for more than 30 minutes. The thing that annoys me the most is that I think it stands a good chance of winning, since the other two in the forefront of the pack (No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood) will probably cancel each other out. And the Academy loves to make up for what it didn't do the year before. Last year, Little Miss Sunshine didn't win. So why not give it to 'this year's Little Miss Sunshine'?

I, too, love quirky things as much as the next person. But ONLY when they work, not when they're hip just to be hip. That's smacks of trying too hard. Just like the dialogue in this movie.

Anonymous said...

Here, here about Juno. I left not hating it, but definitely with a lot of the same irritations. But to the commenter about the screenwriter having been a stripper and therefore not knowing right from wrong, occupation would seem not to be the sole indicator (and often no indicator at all) of a person's moral center.

Jenn Ski said...

I've given you the “you’ve made my day” award!

Janet said...

I have not seen Juno yet, but did feel this way about Once. The songs annoyed me and clearly I didn't get it.
Didn't see much of the Grammy's. Sorta glad I didn't:)
I love your blog though!

JanelleGrace said...

Oh my gosh, thank you so much! My boyfriend and I saw Juno back in December, in theatres, and we were disappointed. But we thought if we watched it again, we might be over our initial disappointment and like it. No. We still hated it and actually hated it as we watched more.

It does try WAY too hard to be quirky and indie and hip and all that jazz. It was just overdone in the dialogue and the hipster-friendly music.

I wish I could have liked it. I had such high hopes for it but I don't. I hate it, I couldn't watch it again.

Anonymous said...

Jeez, do you guys hate recycling too?

Melkorka said...

I totally agree!, I was so excited to see what I thought was supposed to be a sweet, quirky comedy , with "real" women/girl characters and instead I was turned off by the hyper-hip culture references (all the my band is cooler than your band scenes between Juno and Bateman); and the way I felt the characters never escaped their shallow and cool stereotypes. But truthfully I think this is a classic example of me expecting a lot and being disappointed by my expectations...

coolhntr said...

I was glad to see that you felt the same about Juno. I am glad we can be stoned together!

Happy Tuesday!

Anonymous said...

Right on MWTWT! For fellow Juno haters check out these other reviews:

After reading David Cornelius' review, check Laura Kyle and brianorndorf's reviews found to the left on the pulldown menu.

Leah said...

Van Ness,

Yes, exactly! That review totally nails it.

Whew, it's reassuring to know I'm not alone on this one ...


P.S. Pencils -- congrats!

Anonymous said...

oh thank God someone else thought Juno was irritating and precious. Maybe it wouldn't have annoyed me so much if I hadn't been told beforehand that I would love it.

I feel the same way about Wes Anderson movies!

katiedid said...

Ok. One movie I can wait to rent. Thanks! But to Janet re: Once. Sorry, but I loved it.

BTW- Leah! Congrats on the shout out in the Washington Post Blog Watch! WoooHooo!

We Are Not Martha said...

Was thinking the SAME EXACT thing about Jack and Meg White. Come onnnn, that would have rocked.

kelly said...

My issue with Juno was the "Hey -- teen pregnancy isn't so bad! You can stay cute and hip and just find adoptive parents in the Penny Saver!" message. I guess that makes me sound like an old lady, but... harumph.

Also, thanks Janet for your comment on Once. I think you and I are the only ones who didn't like it! Saw it last weekend and was *so* disappointed! I think [for me] it may have been just too, too over-hyped. How could anything live up to that? That's not the fault of the film, of course, but still. Just didn't see what it was all about.

SGM said...

Just another reviewer that agrees with you:

He's one of my favorite funny bloggers ever!

I didn't see Juno, and I don't think I want to even rent it. Too much hype.

Also the Grammys were SO ass-y (great word) that I didn't even watch. Ick.

Alison Hodgson said...

As a huge Arrested Development fan I was so excited to see Jason Batemen and Michael Cera in anything together and the reviews were great, but I was annoyed from the outset watching her swigging from that jug of juice.

Hated that it romanticized teen pregnancy and was just annoyed that a character portrayed as so smart and strong didn't have the brains to buy and use a stinking condom.

I watched it on opening night and the theater was PACKED with teenagers and there was so much laughter which I found really depressing.

All that to say: thanks, I agree.

Love your blog.

Anonymous said...

TOTALLY DISAGREE. Juno, Amy and eh hem..Kanye rocked. Are you one of those, if it's good I'm gonna say it's not because that makes me cool,
kind of people? I think so.

Leah said...

OMG -- I TOTALLY *am* one of those people!

Thanks, Anonymous!


Elka said...

My fiance and I went to see this and felt pretty disappointed. See, we WERE those kids way back when (though without the pregnancy nor wristbands thank god), and we both felt as if the film was really banking on the novelty of "normals" getting an inside look at "fringe" kids. The film just really, really seemed to be trying too hard, though I loved Juno's step-mom and dad, and Jennifer Garner was brilliant.

Oh, and Diablo Cody was only a stripper for a little while (there's a good Terri Gross interview with her, where she reveals herself to be, well, a little self-involved). She strikes me as someone who herself tries a little too hard at times, but not someone who's missing a moral compass. She is from the Midwest, after all.

Anonymous said...

Are you bitter because you are not as talented as the stripper and are reduced to a blog (which anybody can write) or is it that you have forgotten what it was like to be young and eager to be accepted.

Seriously, I know your not 18 but you surely rememeber what being a teenager felt like and the cool people that influenced you. Many of whom were odd but very witty in their observations of life.

Leah said...

Hi Anonymous,

Actually, both!

I am incredibly bitter because A) I am TOTALLY talentless, particularly when compared to *any* stripper and B) I am really f***ing ANCIENT.

Bye now -- thanks for stopping by!



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