Natalie will be going away on a ski trip for five days without me. So, we decided that we should do dinner and a movie, always a good thing.
The only movie we could agree on was Juno, a dark-ish comedy about a quirky 16-year old who gets pregnant and has to face the realities of high school, life, and love. The movie featured great performances from all actors, a catchy soundtrack, a lot of laughs, and some really cool imagery.
“Cool” imagery should not be surprising, given the fact that director Jason Reitman’s previous work, Thank You For Smoking, is full of it. But the imagery in Juno is far more subtle, though sometimes a bit cliché.
Example 1 – Good Stuff
Having just discovered that she’s pregnant, Juno jokingly fashions a noose out of licorice and pretends to hang herself with it. For me, this was absolutely hilarious. Juno is a true adolescent, caught between childhood and adulthood, dealing with a situation “well beyond [her] maturity level,” as she will later say. The childish candy sullied by the adult theme of suicide was a nice touch.
Example 2 – Corny, But It Works
Initially, we are led to believe that Mark (Jason Bateman, always one of my favorites), is a straight-laced suburban yuppie. Juno, of course, finds this lame. Until she spies through a cracked door a Gibson Les Paul (uh…that’s “sweet electric guitar” for the uninitiate).
The relationship between Mark and his wife, Vanessa (Jennifer Garner), instantly gains a great deal of complexity. Kudoes to writer Diablo Cody for using the guitar as a device to show us that all is not as it seems.
However, I just find the idea of the guitar a bit cliché. Guy has guitar–he must be cooler than we thought. Further, there was something about the fact that it was a Les Paul that bothered me. While it is certainly a better choice than a Fender Stratocaster, I can’t help but wonder what type of guitar might have fit in best with the style of music that Mark once played.
In both cases, the visual imagery gives us insight into the characters, their relationships, where they are in life, struggles, etc. Yeah, I rather liked it.
Enough of That
For me, Juno was a great dark-ish comedy that had me laughing and sympathizing with each of its characters the whole way.
A quick word on the soundtrack. I really loved the jingly-jangly childish tunes that comprised most of the soundtrack. However, this did not seem to be the sort of music that the main characters listened to. Since music was such a central theme in there lives (tying together Juno, Mark, and Bleeker), I found this rather odd. At the same time, the music itself was so appropriate to the themes that Reitman and Cody were weaving. Ultimately, it worked.