by Marianna Trzeciak
January 5, 2008
LifeNews.com Note: Marianna Trzeciak, Esq., is a homeschooling mother of three who contributed to amicus briefs in the Rule 60 motions to overturn Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. She founded Democrats for Life of Vermont and speaks regarding pro-life feminism at college, law school and other forums.
There are a whopping four recently released movies dealing with the theme of rejecting abortion: Juno, Bella, Knocked Up and Waitress. Of these, Juno will have the longest legs.
When our children’s children take their college literature courses, Juno will emerge as the vulgar Pride and Prejudice of this time. In courses with such titles as, "Witty Banter as a Means of Conveying the Psychological Maturation Process," Juno will be the representative work of this generation.
No one in a challenging pregnancy can remain as hip and cool as the movie’s protagonist, Juno MacGuff (played by the brilliant Ellen Page).
Daily the increasingly big-bellied 16 year-old faces a veritable parting of the sea of students during class-changing times in the hallways of her high school, where Juno has become–by her own admission–"A Cautionary Whale."
However, the glib one-liners (which even come improbably from Juno’s dimmer best friend) move the story along, make us desire more, rouse the critics to give the movie four stars, and, obviously, hide the pain that Juno’s been carrying her whole life: abandonment by her mother.
Pregnant from her one-and-only encounter with her nerdy, undesignated boyfriend (played perfectly by Michael Cera), Juno makes an appointment for a "hasty procured abortion" and is blind-sided by the lone pro-life protester at the clinic.
Surprise! The protester is a classmate whose pattern of speech doesn’t quite let us know whether she is an Asian immigrant or born in the USA, but which (I believe) gives voice to the millions of baby girls aborted in Asian countries merely because they are girls.
The classmate tells Juno that her baby wants to be born and–oh wait, yeah–has fingernails.
Juno enters the clinic, where a young Goth receptionist offers her a prophylactic, which Juno declines (as she has sworn off sex for now). Juno is told to fill out a sheet listing every "score and sore."
She sits in the waiting room, disappointed that the clinic doesn’t live up to its seemingly helpful name, "Women Now." Meanwhile other clients are tapping and scratching with their fingernails, or they’re wringing their hands. Juno runs out of the clinic and on to her next solution, adoption.
As the movie continues, we see Juno beginning to accept the love and support of her formerly despised step-mother, a manicurist (portrayed in an Oscar-caliber performance by Allison Janney), as well as of her disarmingly complex HVAC-repairman father (J.K. Simmons).
In fact, my favorite part of the movie is listening to dad’s and step-mom’s own idle banter when they learn that Juno is pregnant.
Unlike the stupid-as-toaster-oven parents in other teen movies, these parents are keepers. In fact, Janney’s character tells her husband to back off from the boyfriend, because she is sure that Juno initiated the whole thing. It turns out, like any true mother, step-mom lives inside her daughter’s head.
With an unconscious tribute to the Wizard of Oz, Juno decides that there is no place like home.
And here we come to the least credible part of the movie. Juno prefers her home to the one belonging to the proposed adoptive parents. Why does she continue with her plan of giving up the baby for adoption, and why does she continue with this particular adoptive home, which she clearly finds too antiseptic at first blush and too deranged upon further inspection?
There are twists and turns in the movie finessed by the wonderful actors, Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner, who play the erstwhile parents. In the very tight space they’re given, Bateman and Garner show the reality of adoption American-style. Their scenes also lay the foundation for the one catharsis that Juno may have ever had in dealing with her early childhood trauma.
This light-handed movie is too coarse for many readers and is definitely not for children, but–given what does float in our entertainment wastewater–Juno marks a turning point in the culture of death.
It shows hope and love to a younger generation suffering from despair and utilitarianism.
The movie also provides images and words that can be the starting point for many people suffering from unspeakable pain from broken families, past abortions and past adoption.
Juno also begets the questions, "Why can’t teenagers who find themselves pregnant pull off parenthood themselves (as did folks in past generations and as do folks in other parts of the world)? What is it about our culture wherein even early 40-somethings are too immature to raise children? And why is a materiallly set older couple preferable to a more loving younger couple?"
I expect to see Juno again as I consider why growing-up-is-so-hard-to-do in our world.
There is great directing by Jason Reitman and great writing by Diablo Cody, but the four-star reviews should be shaved to 3 1/2 stars for slight unevenness and excessively vulgar language (if you can hear it through the quick dialogue).