Some Reflections on Juno

I saw Juno when it came out in theaters, and I have not seen it since. A friend asked me about my thoughts on it after watching it on video, and I put them down on paper. They aren’t a proper “review,” but simply some observations. Here’s what I got:

I think the message is basically that life is good and worth the “bumps” that come up along the way. Even though things can seem incredibly threatening, if you believe (in yourself? the integrity of man?) you’ll see that people are basically good. Even when certain people show themselves to be bad (in this case, the perspective adopting father), the goodness of the others makes it all worth it.

So basically, the movie lacks a “Christian worldview.” However, it is better than the typical dark movie, where life is hopeless, as well as the typical teeny-bopper film where there are no worries and free fun all around. Juno is, rather, a happy sort of realism.

We’re glad that Juno didn’t have the abortion, that’s for sure. The fact that the fetus had fingernails proved its humanity. So, it is pro-life.

We also learn that you have to grow up and take responsibility. The would-be father never did this. He kept his 90s grunge records, comic books, and rock t-shirts. The wife tells him that she’s tired of waiting for him to become Kurt Cobain (the success/suicide case).

But unfortunately, “true love” is still rather romanticized. Juno decides that she really has found someone who’s good for her, which isn’t bad in itself, but there is not much guidance and little commentary on possible marriage (though I could be forgetting some things). Juno’s parents are largely failures. The dad is a weak leader who spends too much time in front of the TV, BUT he is kind and merciful, for which we can be glad.

Perhaps the biggest problem is that Juno is just too smart. There’s no way she should know about all those comics, movies, and bands from the ’70s. She’s also terribly quick-witted and a better leader than her parents. This presentation retains the “kids know best” attitude that we learned by watching Nickelodeon. Even as we know we have to grow up, we know that the real power lies in the youth. The adults are not very adult-like.

Michael Cera’s character was also somewhat disappointing as a person, however likable he was. He should have known better than to go to the Prom with another girl. Why wasn’t he more convicted by the whole experience? Did he care that much? I’m sure he did, but he seemed rather comfortable sitting it out.

And perhaps we also learn that kids are, in fact, not adults yet. In Juno they are still playing video games, goofing off, doing the high school thing. They should enjoy being kids. There’s no need to be adults *yet.* I think the movie captured some of this, as Juno complains about missing out on normal teenager stuff. The kids were not ready to be parents, and so adoption was a good thing, even if they lacked the appropriate conviction of sin.

So the movie is a sort of half and half. There’s no clear messiah in the message. If there had been, I suppose it would have lost its “realism.” But there’s also no clear moral guidance, and I think that’s what leaves us unsure.

On the other hand, the message is pretty good when viewed from within the context in which it lives. Cheating on your loved one is bad. Not sticking with your girl while she’s pregnant is bad. Being friends with your spouse is good. Human life is good. Being a kid is good when you’re a kid, and being a grown up is good when you’re a grown up.

So I’d encourage appreciation where at all possible. The lack of clear morality is troublesome, and so not everyone should see Juno. Parents and leaders most definitely SHOULD though. The picture of teenage life is pretty right on, with the possible caveat that they aren’t that smart.

Great soundtrack too.

This entry was posted in movies by Steven Wedgeworth. Bookmark the permalink.

About Steven Wedgeworth

Steven Wedgeworth is the associate pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church in Vancouver, British Columbia. He writes about theology, history, and political theory, and he has taught Jr. High and High School. He is the founder and general editor of The Calvinist International, an online journal of Christian Humanism and political theology, and a Director for the Davenant Institute.

2 thoughts on “Some Reflections on Juno

  1. Seems like there’s been kind of a few non-preachy pro-life films lately. I can appreciate that. Even non-Christians can value life to some degree, albeit not the same way a Christian can.

    It’s refreshing to see the other side for once…and I don’t just mean the fact that she had the kid (and put him up for adoption), but also the fact that her conscience at least pricked her enough to realize that abortion was not an acceptable alternative. She appeared to have realized the “humanness” of the fetus.

    The clinic creeped her out, and I’m betting that scene in the clinic is going to stick with a whole lot of people who might find themselves in a similar position in the near future. It’s not just that the clinic and the people inside of it seemed dirty and nervous and all around terrifying, but the way the scene was done, I think it also indicated her insecurity about what she was planning on doing. The externals were also a picture of her internal state and guilt.

    Having done a lot of pro-life work, I know how quickly people dismiss the evidence of the fetus being a real human in the womb. Most people associate the pro-life picketing and that sort of thing with Christian extremists. And these Christian extremists can show all sorts of evidence, but it doesn’t do any good.

    However, I don’t think anyone’s going to soon forget that babies have fingernails. They’ll always remember that now. And it’s not difficult to make the jump to the conclusion that blobs of tissue do not have fingernails.

    So whether or not we agree with the film, I think the film has done some powerful things for the pro-life movement…things that many pro-life activists are incapable of doing.

  2. i assumed Juno was directed by the same guy that directed Knocked Up, because it’s about unexpected pregnancy and Michael Cera stars as Juno’s boyfriend, but alas this was not the case.

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