Tuesday, March 4, 2008

You're a part-time lover (no kidding) and a full time friend (sort of): Asking about the Juno backlash

Look everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I definitely resent it when that opinion is formulated directly to counter popular opinion. I'll grant you there are some clunker bits of dialogue early on in the film but at the end of the day it's a well-constructed, funny, heartfelt look at a young girl's coming-of-age and her growing perception of the world around her. Juno is SUPPOSED to seem to inhabit her own bizarre world (we all do when we're young and TRY to convince me you and your friends didn't have your own bits of slang) at the start of the film, you'll note a lot of the colloquialisms disappear as the story progresses and the plot lines pick up steam. This is not me being an apologist, this is an hones request that for people who USED to like Juno who then flipped on the film when it became a phenomena.
I think a lot of this may have to do with Diablo Cody. With one, EXACTLY ONE, script turned into a film everyone is ready to peg her as the rhyming, pop culture referencing, too cool for school soundtrack maven that would make her an easy punchline. Oh, has anyone mentioned that she's a stripper? Good lord. I think this is one of those situation's it's not entirely out of the question to throw out a word like "sexism." There is a situation where this can easily be disproven because all the hot screenwriter's get pegged as a "type" when they've got big personalities and are successful early on (QT, Kevin Smith, the Coens, Charlie Kaufman & Rian Johnson all been branded) but that label gets lifted once they demonstrate a little versatility (or not, sorry Kevin, love you but let's try to grow just a bit). As someone who made it a point to read all the old entries of her blog (click here for the oldest one I could still find), I can say with confidence that she is a genuinely funny, honest and talented writer who is not banging out a formula to try to be cute and impress anyone. I haven't yet picked up her memoir (saving it for summer reading) but there's no reason you can't here. Her next screenplay, Jennifer's Body, certainly sounds quite different from Juno (though both are about a young women in high school the differences DEFINITELY stop there). If you're intrigued you can get a spoiler-y early review of the screenplay courtesy of CHUD here.

All right guys, I want some help. Where do you come in on Juno? Hating it? Loving it? Changed your mind? If so, why? Put it in the comments.


sarah said...

I was the last person on earth to see it, but I thought it was phenomenal. I agree that some of the dialogue in the beginning was a little forced and unrealistic, but it grew on me. I also thought it was a realistic portrayal of high school--not as over the top dramatic as My So-Called Life, but not sugar-coated, either. I thought the dynamic between Bleeker and Juno was superb--very understated, very sweet, but obviously pretty fraught. I left the film simultaneously wishing I were back in high school (all the ridiculous pranks and sweet relationships) and so glad I'm not (all the drama and snide looks and having to face situations you're not ready for).

wunder said...

When i first saw Juno i thought it to be a clever and fun movie. I'm a huge Allison Janney fan, which is odd for a 22-year-old guy, but it's true. I thought, boy, everyone that Juno knows talks and relates to her Exactly as she NEEDED them to. This is when i realized that, for me, Juno isn't a necessarily realistic film, but instead Juno exists in her own, very specific world.

Here's what i mean: Juno is the movie that Juno MacGuff would write describing this time in her life. It's like Diablo Cody wrote the film as Juno would've liked to remember it all in a journal or a conversation with a friend retelling this time in her life. You get what i'm saying? That's the brilliance of the movie for me.

Also, i felt Alien vs. Predator: Requiem used the same idea.

ma yanim motek said...

Going to see it again tonight. That is the good thing about Israel, it just came out here. I am a pop culture junky and relate Diablo Cody similar to an Amy Sherman Palladino, someone who is praised for her smart pop culture references. I dont know if you were a GG fan or not. Basically, think what you want, but in my eyes, Juno was destined to become popular because it has such an amazing screenplay. I loved it, my brother liked it, my parents liked it, and my grandma liked it.

peter said...

i wasn't kidding when i said that i felt like i had been hugged by Juno the first time i saw it. but i also don't think it held up as well the second time i saw it. i think it's a good, maybe even great movie. i think jason bateman and j.k. simmons gave incredibly underrated performances. i get your point about the maturation of the script/story mirroring the juno's own journey, but i don't think that totally excuses it.

what you may be missing about the backlash is that--at least in my estimation--most of the lashers-back aren't saying, "ugh, that was the most fetid piece of shiite ever, i don't get how anyone liked it." they're simply noting that the film may not entirely deserve the rank of OMFG BEST MOVIE EVER.

i've always liked sweet movies. i cried during the post-prom sex scene in Girl Next Door, for god's sake. i like juno, maybe more than 90% of the movies that came out in 2007. but it's hard to separate a film from the people in it, from the advertising campaigns, from the nominations, from the hype, from the ubiquitous quote-drops dotting gchat statuses across the nation, from the lofty titles our superlative-obsessed society likes to pass around. everybody loves a winner.

i preferred the film when it was a hug to when it was a best picture nominee.

wunder said...

i understand and agree with your valid point that it is difficult to separate a film and it's hyped-up version of itself. However, i think that in future years we'll see juno as the facebook crowd's Breakfast Club.

brian said...

I saw Juno post-hype, and it was the hype that had me expecting more. I enjoyed the film, but I didn't fall in love with it. I might like it a lot more in two years when my expectations are mediocre.

I do think the Diablo Cody uproar is undeserved. I don't understand it, mainly. Is Juno that groundbreaking? Has no one ever written snappy, colloquial dialog before?

On another note, I really love the soundtrack. Second only to the Dan in Real Life OST.

On yet another note, I would put Aaron Sorkin into that branded screenwriter crew.

sarah said...

As for teen dialogue, I think Clueless and 10 Things I Hate About You did it pretty well. I do remember seeing Clueless when it came out, though, and thinking, "Wow, I don't really talk like that." It's always a subset of teen language. The girls in back of us in the cinema definitely were not loving the dialogue....