Revisiting Juno

posted by Jeff | Saturday, April 19, 2008, 12:09 AM | comments: 0

As you may recall, I was quite infatuated with Juno when I first saw it in the theaters. My initial reasons were in part because a virtual nobody (at the time) wrote it, it had great dialogue not written by Tarantino and, above all, it was the first movie I had seen in a very long time that I emotionally responded to without making me feel cheap. I can say that the movie does make my top five of all time, and that's a really special place to be.

I've noticed there's a lot of hate on the Internet over the movie, mostly from asinine self-appointed morality police (ironic seeing as how the lead chooses not to have an abortion, but whatever). What gets me is more the movie "buffs" who live in their parents basement complaining the movie is too over the top or not realistic or whatever.

For the sake of argument, why are people completely willing to suspend disbelief for science fiction, ultra-violence or, my favorite, movies where some dork gets to nail cheerleaders. Like any of those are realistic?

But forget all that, because I think there's a level of realness in the movie that is unmatched in most of the shit passed off as drama from Hollywood. Kids actually are witty and funny and hilarious. I know I was. And after years of coaching teenage girls, I can tell you with great confidence that they're some of the funniest fucking people I've ever known. Yes, they talk about dumb teenage shit, but it floors me how witty they can be.

One of the things I find hardest to think about when it comes to screenplays is having the right flow and devices in place to advance the story the "right" way. It's the thing my first screenplay lacked. In Juno, for example, there are three distinct stages to the opinions you have about Vanessa (Jennifer Garner's character). At first you hate her for being a crazy type-A freak, then you appreciate her need to be the most noble of things, and finally you see how genuine and warm she really is. To have a script and performance that can draw you in like that is top notch. It's my coming of age story obsession wrapped up into a shorter time frame.

But like I said, the bigger thing is that you just really sympathize with and love the characters. I mean, there aren't any to dislike at all. That's unusual.

Top. Five.


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