Em Brownlowe

*DISCLAIMER: Indeed, I am the last person in gaycondo to see Juno

Juno Vs. Ghost World

Mmkay, I realize I am 6 months too late but I just watched the movie, Juno, for the first time.

I’m always skeptical of extreme hype: Critics glowed about Juno, Diablo Cody revealed her past as a stripper, young girls need a light hearted spotlight on teenage pregnancy to encourage reproductive awareness, Oscar Nite, yadda yadda, etc.

I unintentionally strayed from Juno for a loooong time. After noticing that Juno was playing at the same second run local theater for what felt like months, I didn’t feel a big rush to see it right away. It’s overbearing presence made me think I could see it any time so I continued to put it off. Months later, after Juno had won an Oscar and I was beginning to digest the force fed hype, I felt the cultural pressure to finally sit down and watch Juno. After all, I couldn’t miss out on the “heart warming, hilarious indie gem” of the year. Plus there would be indie music in it!

The whole time I was watching Juno, all I could think was that I didn’t get it. I guess the hype had gone over my head. I found the writing to be trite and annoying and with the exception of Jennifer Garner’s mediocre performance, the acting was haaarrible. I found Juno’s character to be especially irritating. I realize that in reality, many teenagers are annoying. Especially teenagers like Juno who think they are mature, witty and have an insatiable urge to “one up” someone. If only Juno would have realized that the erratic overuse of stale one liners just made her come off as an immature adult whose jokes warrant a courtesy laugh and causes everyone else inwardly rolls their eyes.

Even though Juno’s soundtrack featured cutesy folk-pop throughout the entirety of the film, I thought the musical connection between Juno and the future practical father of her child, Mark Loring, would save the movie for me. I did also find it impressive how at the age of 16, Juno knew and apprectiated Dario Argento as the gore master. However, once Mark’s true colors shown red hott for Juno, I knew it would go downhill from there. I must say, I did anticipate that moment after reading one reviewer compare Juno to Ghost World (2001), a movie I loved when I was a teenager.

Speaking of Ghost World….That’s a great movie based upon “adult” teenagers! It explores some of the same principles of Juno, an outcast alternative teenager who is trying to grow up too fast and meets an older man who introduces her into the realms of music. Except Ghost World’s soundtrack isn’t full of indie-pop sing-a-longs suitable for “progressive indie 5 year olds”. Instead, it has kitschy Americana blues and retro Bollywood jangles. There is also an element of inappropriate relations between teenager Enid (Thora Birch) and forty-something, bug eyed Seymour (Steve Bucemi) but I think we have all grown to expect that from the characters Becemi plays (hello, Tree’s Lounge?)

What truly makes Ghost World‘s Enid differ from Juno is that she is actually funny and doesn’t act like a a teenager who is trying too hard to be cool around adults. Enid’s dry sarcasm is believable and serious even if the audience’s reaction is light hearted.

While Ghost World was nominated for an Oscar for Best Screenplay Based Upon Previously Published Material, (although, to my understanding, the plot radically differs from the comic book it is based on) the award was won by another. boo.

Here are a few of my favorite scene from Ghost World:

Years later, how Juno‘s watered down portrayal of a girl coming of age managed to win an Oscar for “Best Original Screenplay” is still beyond me. What made this movie deserve such hype? A friend offered up the explanation of how Juno would have made an excellent book for teen girls and simply wasn’t fit the screen…or theater for that matter. This idea banishes Juno’s cheesy one-liners to the discreet corners of the reader’s mind and excuses the actor’s embarrassing execution of their lines. Another friend was certain the movie did so well because Diablo Cody exploited her past career as a stripper, creating a whirlwind of hot topics to surround her first movie. If such a conspiracy theory could be the case, how come Juno’s storyline wasn’t centered around a teenage stripper rather than a pregnant girl who gets freaked out at the abortion clinic and decides to donate her baby to a hetero, upper middle class, white family? A family involving a deadbeat husband and a woman whose life goal is to raise a baby. Typical. How about an interracial lesbian couple who BOTH want to be mothers?

As a feminist, it is important to note that it is AWESOME to see more women behind the scenes in film making and I think it is great that they are recognized on Oscar night. It is also great to see women speaking openly about their experiences (ie. stripping) they have been shunned for in society. Awareness and acceptance is key to bridging the gaps society has opposed upon each other. However, it is also important to note, like everyone else, women don’t always make good artistic choices and shouldn’t be rewarded just because they are women. Similarly, just because the media hypes up a product while desperately trying to sell it to me doesn’t necessarily mean that I will agree with it…even if I am down with the greater cause of women making art, becoming recognized for their creations, or stripping.

Freedom of choice!


4 Responses to “KEEP IT ON THE BROWNLOWE: Juno, WTF?!”

  1. June 5, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Ghost world is my favorite movie of all time. Down with Juno. yay

  2. June 5, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    I really, really wanted to like Juno but sure was disappointed, and agree with all that was said in your review.

  3. 3 The Bearded Traveler
    June 5, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    These are reviews that REFLECT my own!!

    (And I really need to see Trees Lounge again!
    It’s been many years.)

  4. 4 Em
    June 6, 2008 at 11:08 am

    YAY! I’m glad that you all back me up! I don’t understand people who think Juno is better that Ghost World.

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