Friday, January 4, 2008

Man on Film: Juno

Barring the solid to great performances by Jason Bateman, Ellen Page, and especially Michael Cera, this was an almost entirely irritating film. The plot was predictable at best. At no point was there any doubt as to what was going to happen. The graphics and opening titles sequence were gratingly reminiscent of that junior high artwork that such equally irritating films as Napoleon Dynamite incorporated. The Kimya Dawson-centric soundtrack fell victim to the film's infatuation with its cuteness, and past the presence of The Moldy Peaches, the film is littered with the stock artists that indie films seem to be enamored with like Belle and Sebastian (who grace the film with their presence twice) and, of course, The Kinks.

The most irritating aspect of the film, however, was the screenplay. Imagine a film in which the dialogue is styled after The Gilmore Girls and Dawson's Creek, incorporating the least desirable aspects of each (everyone being far too witty, and kids talking like adults). That is exactly what screenwriter Diablo Cody's script is. The grating "homeskillet" line in every TV spot and Theatrical Trailer delivered by the bewildering Rainn Wilson is more or less what this film is inundated with. Additionally, each adult is a caricature; each child is the outcast of the each year's sleeper hit. The stepmom, portrayed by Allison Janney complete with the overboard Minnesotan accent popularized in "Fargo" and bludgeoned in every movie since, is obsessed with dogs even though she doesn't own one. Juno's father is the typical, blue-collar, somewhat dim father to the unbelievably witty daughter, who always has some impossibly snarky comment for every situation.

Essentially, the film's shortcomings boil down to its love for itself. The filmmakers have created an unbelievable universe in which its characters spew forth words that surpass any acceptable degree of suspended disbelief and everyone is too cute for their own good. Its lack of grounding proves to be its undoing, and the few times it attempts to touch base with the real world later in the film are ultimately undermined by its not having been tethered to the ground in the least up until that point.

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