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Christopher Wilde
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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Knocking Juno

By Christopher Wilde

This weekend I finally got around to watching the movie Juno.  What, you say, finally!  Yes, finally and that you would say that is the reason I've waited so long.  Nothing ruins a sweet little movie like hype.  Though I'll admit that it is seldom worth the cost of a movie to see a comedy at the theater.  Comedy translates well to the small screen as anything funny is funny no matter where you go or what you are doing.

Don't believe me?  Put the joke that makes you laugh again and again on an index card and carry it with you everywhere.  If you are really bold you can follow my lead by taking your favorite joke to a funeral.  I take the index card and stick it in the sleeve of the deceased.  That way, a thousand years from now, when that time capsule is unearthed I might end up in someone's history book as the comedian who really killed.

Juno is a cute movie, funny, not hilarious.  It's humor is primarily encased in its over use of speed-glib dialogue and its semi-offbeat characters.  I don't regret having watched it, but I'm really glad the hype had faded from my mind  or I would have been very disappointed.

This movie has gotten a bad rap for having "glorified" teen pregnancy.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Credit must be given to Oscar winner Diablo Cody for providing the story of a teen with enough wisdom to give her baby up for adoption, and perhaps that is the only thing Cody does here that warrants the Oscar.  I can't think of another movie in which the main character gives up her baby for adoption.

This movie could have taken one of two routes to either deliver a constant steam of jokes that kept the audience laughing and distracted from any sense of seriousness (completely mitigating the gravity of the situation) or it could have dipped in and out of seriousness.  It would have been much, much harder to do the latter and had it been successfully accomplished it would have been worth the Oscar.

It's hard to say who's choice that was but I'm inclined to believe it was Jason Reitman's and it does seem to be in keeping with the sprit of his primary influence (his father), I haven't read enough of Cody's work to lay the blame at her door.  Having listened to her intently during television interviews I'm inclined to believe that she is very in tune with the dark truths of drama.

The result is that the film misses the opportunity to use humor to communicate a deeper message, and I'm certainly not willing to fault them for that.  Creativists  have to make the choice to be commercially viable or to provide some greater theme or message.  Making that choice is no guarantee of success.  Everyone involved in this film should be applauded loudly for making that choice, doing it well, and being successful.

My sympathies go out of Diablo Cody.  When she was stepping up to take the Oscar my now confirmed feeling was that the double edge sword on that statue may cut her career film career in half.  Fortunately she is a novelist, a great writer, and I believe she will continue to have successes.

I suspect that if Diablo Cody could have anyone in the world play her in a movie it would me Megan Fox who will be appearing in the next Cody written film Jennifer's Body.

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