The One Year Anniversary Of The Juno Backlash

By Gabe Delahaye / December 8, 2008

This month marks the one year anniversary of Diablo Cody’s Academy Award-winning film, Juno starring Ellen Page as a sardonic high schooler who gets pregnant by Michael Cera and decides to carry the child to term and give it up for adoption. This month also marks the one year anniversary of the backlash against Diablo Cody’s Academy Award-winning film, Juno. In honor of the occasion, I finally watched this movie for the first time this weekend, and holy shit, the criticism that was dumped on this movie over the course of the past year has not gone far enough. This is one of the worst movies ever made, and there is a special discount movie screening room reserved in hell for it.

First of all, I’d like to get something out of the way. One of the classic defenses against Juno haters is that we are just jealous of Diablo Cody’s success. Untrue. Sure, we’d all like to get a ton of money and accolades, but I don’t think that Diablo Cody is taking work away from me. I don’t have a horrible screenplay filled with unbearable dialogue about an unrealistic teenager sitting in my desk drawer that will never get made now. Diablo Cody, like Seth MacFarlane, is not the one to blame for her success. She didn’t give herself an Oscar. She didn’t force Steven Spielberg to greenlight The United States of Tara, premiering on Showtime, Sunday, January 18th. Diablo Cody won, that is not up for debate. She should keep her Oscar and her diamond shoes that are too tight and continue to lead a long and happy life.

But Jesus F. Christ, her movie is bad.

I say her movie because she was really the story behind the whole thing. Jason Reitman may have directed, and Jason Bateman may have stolen every scene he was in, but Diablo Cody was the one with the better backstory. The problem is that just because you were a stripper one time doesn’t mean that your terrible writing isn’t terrible. I’m not going to shit on the slang-driven dialogue too much, because that was dutifully taken care of last year, but I will point out that half of it just didn’t even make sense. Forget the fact that no one, much less teenagers, say “honest to blog,” but at some point you have to realize that not all pop culture references are created equal. At one point Juno tells Jason Bateman that he should go to China and buy a baby off the black market. “I heard they were giving them away like free iPods.” Oh, cool, iPods! Those are so cool. Totally. Awesome reference to a cool thing teenagers know about, except WHO IS GIVING AWAY FREE iPODS? No, David Blaine. Or should I say, Lazy, David Blaine.

Which brings us to the plot, with its weird pro-life message based on the single unconvincing fact that fetuses have fingernails (?), its focus on idiosyncratic but completely unnecessary details, like Michael Cera’s orange tic tacs “addiction,” which is about as interesting and important to the story as the entirety of Garden State. Then there’s Juno‘s blatant hodgepodge of well-worn mid-90s to mid-00s indie tropes. There’s the hand-crafted graphics and twee visual motifs made popular by Wes Anderson and Napoleon Dynamite. There’s the older man falling for a teenager subplot of American Beauty, Beautiful Girls, Election, and half a dozen other movies.

It’s a testament to how good Michael Cera and Jason Bateman are (Honorable Mention: Jennifer Garner and Allison Janney) that I found myself laughing through my frustrated diarrhea tears at some of their lines, and feeling at the end that they’d both escaped what should have been disastrous turns in their career. Diablo should pay them both 10 percent of all future earnings for allowing her to continue working. It all rests on their shoulders. Wait, but what about Ellen Page? What about Ellen Page. Her range seems to consist of playing anything from precocious teenager who read Sarcasm For Dummies to precocious teenager who read Klutz Guide To Sarcasm. Fair enough. But also, UNIMPRESSED.

And at a certain point, we’re going to have to stop accepting movies on the strength of their soundtracks alone. It always turns out badly. I’m glad Kimya Dawson finally got the mainstream success she deserves, kind of, but did she have to earn it by throwing all of our eyes under the bus?

I just can’t say enough bad things about this movie. A rant against the first five minutes alone could fill a book.

So let’s raise a glass of Drano to the one year anniversary of the Juno backlash. May we continue to hate this movie, ))<>((.