Finally! I've been following the Juno good/bad debate from the sidelines for much too long. Now, thanks to the pay-per-view offerings in a Fort Myers, Florida motel room not so long ago, I can at long last weigh in myself.
And the not-so-original verdict is... Dana Stevens was right. My teeth were inspired to start grinding almost instantly by the too-cute indie banter in the early scenes ("honest to blog"? are you serious?) but I gradually learned to overlook the overdone witticisms and just see the people hiding behind them. (As Stevens said, "Many critics, including me, pointed to the 20-minute mark as the point when irritation gave way to affection.) There's Juno herself, of course, with that mix of toughness, humour and vulnerability that earned Ellen Page her Oscar nomination, but I thought that the characters played by Michael Cera, Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner were equally layered. Cera's "whose idea was it...?" was a heart-breaker.
If I must address the whole teen pregnancy issue (and, considering the movie has been kicked around a lot in a role model vs. inappropriate viewing debate, and also been adopted by some as a pro-life vehicle, I suppose I must) I'll say this: I think the movie may have underplayed, slightly, the potential emotional consequences of giving a baby up for adoption. Juno's final "It never really felt like ours, anyway" moment strikes me as a little too easy. I also think the kids at Juno's school were remarkably easy on her, at least compared to the treatment pregnant girls got at my high school. Do I think that means this movie is going to convince teenage girls everywhere that there are no consequences to being knocked up? No. I don't. It's just one person's story, and an enjoyable one at that.