I may be one of the last people in the country to see the movie Juno, but I finally saw it last night. My mother had told me how much she loved it, as well as my closest friend (who I feel compelled to add is both an adoptee and an adoptive mother). I had also read mini-reviews by a few others in the blogosphere who called out its appalling treatment of birth mothers, and so I went in with my antennae up on that.
If you haven’t seen the movie yet, many of my comments below may not make sense, and will contain spoilers. Read at your own peril.
First, I didn’t hate the movie. There were some things I even liked (I love “Arrested Development”, so just seeing two of those characters was a huge treat).
But. I HATED that Juno never even considered raising her baby herself. While no parent would want to hear that their 16 year old daughter was pregnant, they were good and supportive parents overall – they could have (and to my mind, should have) offered help and support to her to raise this baby. The movie does explore abortion, which Juno first considers and then decides against. As a staunch pro-choice advocate, I was pleased at the matter-of-fact way this was handled. But the automatic next option for her was adoption, with no apparent consideration for parenting. In the 21st century, I’m not sure how realistic this is, and I think the movie loses some credibility, as well as an important dimension, by not at least addressing it. From a family support standpoint, Juno’s step-mother and best friend accompanied her to her ultrasound appointment which to me underscored her family support – her stepmother held her hand and laughed with her in amazement at the images on the screen. She also dressed down the ultrasound tech who made a very inappropriate comment when she learned Juno was choosing to relinquish.
And Vanessa, an uptight divorced woman with no apparent job, is going to be a better mother than Juno?? To her own baby?? I don’t know…
Most of what I’ve read about this movie seem to paint it as pro-choice/pro-life, depending on your politics, with the adoption stuff completely ignored. To me it painted birthmothers very widely with a brush most of the world would LIKE to see – as incubators for perfect little babies for someone else.
Several other posters have commented on the racism exhibited in the film – the protester at the abortion clinic is Asian and is presented in a dorky way, the ultrasound tech is evil and Juno makes a disparaging comment about Chinese adoptions. I don’t feel qualified to address the first two, but I’d like to add my take on the Chinese adoption comment, especially because I have adopted two Chinese children myself. I did not see Juno’s comments as racist, or anti-adoption, but a flippant reflection/obvious exaggeration of what a contemporary teenager probably thinks about Chinese adoption. It was said in such a way as to be patently untrue. C’mon, shooting babies out of T-shirt cannons at sporting events? I honestly have a hard time being offended by something intended to be outrageous.
I was disturbed that Bleeker, the baby’s father, chose not to see the baby, and that this was presented as a good thing, and that Juno and Bleeker quite literally returned to “normal” life after the birth and adoption of their son. How many birth mothers do that? Not too many that I’ve been in contact with. Try none.
So there you have it. In short, my opinion would have to be that Juno is a quirky movie about an independent teenager who finds herself in an adult situation without the maturity to deal with it. Oh, and can anyone tell me why everyone was using corded phones?? I actually wondered if maybe it was intended to be set in the 80’s, but it wasn’t.
I don’t know. I think you need to keep in mind the idea that it reduces the whole situation down to a two hour movie. I thought it went rather well into the non-traditional aspects of family.
Mrs. Morton II
Excellent review. I’ve not seen it, but I was intrigued by the controversy surrounding it.