Vox Nova at the Movies: Juno

Vox Nova at the Movies: Juno January 10, 2008

Something weird is going on in Hollywood.

Six months ago, I went to see Knocked Up, the Judd Apatow comedy about an out of wedlock pregnancy. The movie was incredibly raunchy, but it also presented the case against abortion in fairly sympathetic terms. I remember thinking at the time that the film’s treatment of the subject was about as good as one could expect from a major Hollywood film.Turns out I was wrong.

Juno is about a hip, highly literate young girl, Juno McGraw who finds herself pregnant. At first, Juno sees abortion as the logical answer to her difficulties. She is, in fact, rather nonchalant about the whole thing (when asked by a friend where she will go for the abortion, she deadpans that she was thinking of going to “Women Now” because “they help women now”). She informs the father, a nerdy kid named Pauli Bleeker, of her decision. He is visibly devastated, but says nothing (after all, it’s her choice), and off to the clinic she goes. On her way to Women Now, however, she runs into a classmate (a foreign exchange student) who is protesting outside the clinic. They talk briefly, and as Juno leaves to go, her friend calls out to her, telling her that she doesn’t have to do this, and that her baby has a heartbeat and fingernails.

At first Juno seems unaffected by this newfound information. She enters the clinic and engages in banter with the dead eyed teenage receptionist, who offers her flavored condoms and basically tries to act worldly and mature. But as Juno fills out the paperwork, her eyes are drawn again and again to the finger nails of each of the people in the room. Finally, she just can’t take it anymore. She runs from the clinic and never looks back.It’s rare to see the anti-abortion position stated with such sympathy and simplicity as it is in this film, and the scenes inside the abortion clinic are just creepy. The film is not about abortion by any means (the entire treatment of the issue lasts maybe 15 minutes). It would be well worth seeing even without these scenes, however. Juno is a wonderful, quirky film full of pathos, interesting characters, and great dialog. It’s not a family film, of course (there is plenty of “adult” language and themes, though no nudity). If these are not a problem to you, I would highly recommend it.

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