Ten Things I Hate About 'Juno'
Published: Thursday, April 19, 2012
Updated: Saturday, April 21, 2012 02:04
Legendary film critic Roger Ebert said a few weeks ago that he would consider including Juno in his list of the top 10 movies of all time. As one of Juno’s few outspoken detractors — I’ve trashed Juno offhandedly in numerous reviews of other films for The Hoya — I can’t let this stand. So before I graduate next month, I’d like to explain exactly why I dislike Juno. To clarify, I’m not some kind of negative blowhard who hates all cutesy independent movies: I love Little Miss Sunshine, which is often compared to Juno. I don’t have some kind of fanatical political views about abortion which make me hate the film on those grounds. I just specifically dislike Juno. And if you’re an outraged Juno fan who can’t wait to shoot down my criticisms, calm down. I’m not necessarily trying to make value judgments about the film. I’m mostly just saying why I personally don’t like it.
1. Unrealistic and Infuriating Dialogue
The dialogue in many parts of Juno is virtually indistinguishable from the dialogue of Napoleon Dynamite, a movie for 14-year-olds who love arguing about whether pirates are more badass than ninjas. Juno, meanwhile, is widely regarded as a transcendent film by teens and adults alike. Yet in the first few scenes of Juno we hear such gems as: “Shut your frickin’ gob,” “Silencio, old man,” “homeskillet,” and, brutally, “honest to blog.” Admit you’d believe me if I told you that any of those lines came from that new Napoleon Dynamite animated show on Fox. “DO THE CHICKENS HAVE LARGE TALONS?!?!?” Ebert, who evidently hasn’t spoken to someone under 20 since he was under 20, would be shocked to learn that no real young people talk like Juno (Ellen Page) and her friends. No 16-year-old would refer to her own pregnancy as being “up the spout foshizz,” or at least no 16-year-old with friends. Oh, and when Juno’s best friend Leah (Olivia Thirlby, whose acting was so atrocious that I considered making it one of the 10 things on this list) finds out Juno is pregnant, she says “Phuket, Thailand” instead of the f-word. First of all, are we meant to believe that 16-year-olds don’t swear, even in situations like this? Also, the “H” in “Phuket” is supposed to be silent. At least the film gets a pronunciation correct later when Juno says “shiitake mushrooms” instead of the s-word. Oh wait, that was Spy Kids. And if Spy Kids correctly pronounces its fake swear words and Juno doesn’t, ipso ergo facto Latino Spy Kids is better than Juno. I rest my case.
2. An Insufferable Soundtrack
I’m guessing at least a third of Juno’s budget was spent on buying microphones sensitive enough to record the quiet-ass voices of these singers. It’s all cutesy piano riffs, upbeat acoustic guitars and unaffected baby-voiced musicians whisper-singing pseudo-romantic nothings. “Here is the church and here is the steeple / We sure are cute for two ugly people.” Shut up Moldy Peaches lady, you don’t actually think you’re ugly. To be fair, I’m not really into this particular kind of music in general, but when combined with a sickly sweet movie like Juno it becomes almost too much to bear.
3. Old Punk Rock Music Isn’t Cool
Again, this is merely a matter of personal preference. Now, many of my best friends back home are obsessed with the same music Juno is. But does that mean I have to like it and think it’s cool? No. Hence I don’t think Juno is cool, and I wasn’t at all moved by the scenes in which sheand Mark (Jason Bateman), the potential adoptive father of her baby, wax poetic about guitars and The Runaway Stooge-Trains or whatever. Patti Smith is your favorite singer? No one gives a shiitake. I don’t even know who the Phuket she is. I feel like Diablo Cody grossly overestimated the proportion of the 2007 teenage movie-going audience who had heard of The Melvins. It’s the 21st century. Who are you, my dad? My grandpa? My great-great-great-great-great-great uncle John Tyler, the 10th president of the United States? Yeah, that’s right. I’m related to him. I’ll be signing autographs in the ICC Galleria from 6 to 9 p.m. next Tuesday.
4. The Hamburger Phone
I’m picking on the hamburger phone because it’s a microcosm of the film’s glaring lack of subtlety. The hamburger phone is supposed to emphasize the contrast between Juno’s young age and the adult situation she’s been thrust into (pun regrettably intended). But juxtaposition has to be subtle to be effective; Juno chooses an obvious dichotomy and proceeds to beat the audience over the head with it, to the point that Juno actually says out loud, “Sorry, I’m on my hamburger phone,” during a call to the abortion clinic. The hamburger phone is hardly the only example of the film’s lack of nuance, and it actually may not be even as egregious as the stale, one-dimensional contrast between cliche, laid-back rocker Mark and his overly uptight wife Vanessa (Jennifer Garner). Vanessa is stressed out by deciding between two seemingly identical colors of paint, while Mark doesn’t care which one they use? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?