Deeper Into Movies: Juno (2007)

Count the bulges. / Photo by Doane Gregory / 20th Century Fox

Before seeing the Bob Dylan movie on Wednesday, I caught a(nother) film aimed squarely at hipster kids: the Kimya Dawson/Moldy Peaches-soundtracked Juno, which also features a couple of Belle & Sebastian songs and tremendously cute performances from several of its actors. Awesomely, Ellen Page’s titular character has a three-way tie for her favorite bands (among them: Iggy and the Stooges) and dismisses Sonic Youth as being “just noise.” And she plays in a band with Michael Cera, who continues to bring me nothing but joy.

Beyond the music, the movie itself is twee as fuck: it’s Knocked Up for the teenage sweater set. It’s about as indie-quirky as it gets, from the characters’ eccentricities (Juno’s telephone is a plastic cheeseburger) to the post-Little Miss Sunshine Best Original Screenplay-baiting dialogue. [Continue reading…]

While it’s ostensibly a movie from a female perspective – and make no mistake, Page’s pregnant heroine owns the film – it’s also an unintentional piece of male wish fulfillment. Juno is the kind of girl us shy indie dudes (as exemplified, nay, embodied in Cera’s Bleeker [and every awkward, gawky role he’s ever played in his life, but I digress]) all wish had existed in high school: artsy, musical, legitimately beautiful and even more legitimately approachable. The fact that she gets “bored” one afternoon with her best friend Bleeker and initiates sex instead of watching The Blair Witch Project is the stuff of math class daydreams, a scenario not so far from that envisioned by the desperate fellas of Cera’s Superbad this summer. Despite being a teenage father-to-be, Bleeker is faced with no real responsibility or consequences: when he volunteers to come to an ultrasound, it’s practically a screenwriting afterthought. Her dad (J.K. Simmons, fresh off his gruff star turn as Spider-Man 3‘s J. Jonah Jameson), despite threats of violence, ends up not even lecturing him. And you can guess whether or not he gets the girl. In this sense, it’s far more subversive film than Knocked Up: it’s how that movie would’ve played if Seth Rogen had kept watching porn and smoking pot and still ended up being a real catch.

But that’s in part because this is not a movie about consequences. At her most bulgingly pregnant, Juno refers to herself as a “cautionary whale” – a joke that doubles as a clever pun and a notice of how seriously the film takes (or rather, shirks) its potential moral responsibilities. It’s also not a movie about plot, so I’ll spare you the narrative. Where Juno excels is in simply letting its characters live their lives for an hour and a half, charming us at every point along the way. Its final scene is one of the most sweetly romantic moments I’ve ever seen, on screen or otherwise; that it relies on the Moldy Peaches’ “Anyone Else But You” makes it a pitch-perfect dénouement. Take your girlfriends and hold their hands, fellas – you may start tearing up a bit.

Belle & Sebastian – “Piazza, New York Catcher”: mp3

Previously: Live: Kimya Dawson/The Moldy Peaches at the Smell


Deeper into Movies is a Yo La Tengo song and in this case, a film review column. Click below for more.