Friday, January 25, 2008


...for dissing the Academy Awards AND Juno:

The surprise, of course, is the Best Picture and Director nods for Juno, a movie I’m almost alone in disliking. Of course I knew it would work for younger audiences — I concluded my review, “Brace yourself for the Juno Generation.” But the outpouring of love from every critic surprised me. In several reviews, critics patted themselves on the back for having overcome their impatience with the first twenty minutes, especially the scene in which Juno strides around her local pharmacy ranting that her pregnancy test is positive... What those duped reviewers miss is that the screenwriter, who calls herself “Diablo Cody,” and the slickster director, Jason Reitman, engineered every response. Cody and Reitman introduce the characters crudely: no subtext, everything blurted out. The father and stepmother greet the news of Juno’s pregnancy by lamenting that she’s not into hard drugs and that she wasn’t picked up on a DWI instead. Funny. The father introduces himself to the couple that wants to adopt Juno’s baby by saying, “Thank you for having me and my irresponsible child over to your home.” The prim yuppie (Jennifer Garner) offers her guests Pellegrino or Vitamin Water. On and on, with sitcom banter laboring to be epigrammatical — except that each sequence ends with a switcheroo in which the characters display unexpected (and dramatically improbable) insight. Admittedly, my favorite thing in Juno is one such moment. Dad: “I thought you were the kind of girl who knew when to say when.” Juno: “I have no idea what kind of girl I am.” Lovely. But the rest of the time Cody and Reitman flatter the audience for its sensitivity while cramming in pop-culture references (and nonstop alt-pop) to make it feel hip. Even the sexual role reversal — the girl is the tomboy aggressor, the boy the passive femme with the long, skinny legs — is a con.

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