Thursday, December 13, 2007


Juno: You're, like, the coolest person I've ever met, and you don't even have to try, you know...

Paulie: I try really hard, actually.

So could it be said of Diablo Cody's heroine and story Juno that on the surface seems to be Knocked Up meets Superbad (even sharing one of the latter's stars, Michael Cera playing lovable ubergeek Paulie Bleeker--Geez, his name even RHYMES with geek!). The plot synopsis goes like this: "Faced with an unplanned pregnancy, an offbeat young woman makes an unusual and bizarre decision regarding her unborn child." Um, what? What's so "bizarre and unusual" about giving a baby up for adoption? Or even selecting the adoptive parents?

tries to be quirky, offbeat, clever, unusual, bizarre, unique--right down to the hamburger telephone and "so nerdy it's cool" music. But it tries too hard in my opinion and often sacrifices evoking authenticity for sardonic wisecracking. After the downers that were The Savages and Grace is Gone, however, Juno does offer moments of humor and an occasional glimmer of inspiration. Notably in the awkwardly endearing performance of Cera and Jennifer Garner's brittle but fragile portrayal of Vanessa. There's an amazing amount of buzz around former stipper cum blogger turned screenwriter Diablo Cody right now. According to an article in the Washington Post,

Cody portrays her stripping as an offshoot of her budding sense of impulsive adventure. A whim. A diversion. Or, suggests Rob Nelson, who knew Cody and edited a few of her articles at City Pages, it was a calculated move to get herself spotted within the crowded screaming mass that is the blogosphere.
I wouldn't doubt it. Juno feels a bit calculated as well. Co-star Jason Bateman was quoted as saying ""The script is very stylized...the script is really the star of the film." And that's it fatal flaw in my opinion. Good writing should be invisible. Bad writing feels calculated and manipulative. Despite the incessantly offbeat quirkiness that feels consciously influenced by alienated teen movies such as Ghost World rather than innately original, the movie wraps up with a fairly predictable "and they all lived happily ever after" ending. Proving that Cody--like her hard-ass heroine--is a shameless traditional romantic at heart. No harm in that. Hopefully her future work (and with her flair for dialogue and character, she definitely has a future!), will incorporate more subtlety and dimensionality.

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