12 August 2008

Really, it's not just because Diablo Cody is one of my 14 friends on MySpace

The movie Juno keeps coming up in conversations, and I'm not even the one who brings it up. My friend asked me what made me love it, because he liked it but didn't love it and as a fellow reviewer he was curious about that difference. I said it was because of Juno's fundamentally optimistic and generous view of how people are, something I have admired in the work of many directors (with Wim Wenders at the top of the list). Juno is really the opposite of all those other movies it gets lumped in with, in today's popular and profitable goofy youth genre (see Judd Apatow, The Farrelly Brothers) that always seems to feature people as dumb or as obtuse as humanly possible to make a given plot work (e.g., in which freaking universe would Katharine Heigl's character really go for that guy in Knocked Up?) The character of Juno, on the other hand, remains true to her ideas about what she needs to do, whether she's deciding to go to the abortion clinic or deciding to have the baby. I felt some of what she did when I decided to adopt a child from another country: I'm already different. I have nothing to lose by pursuing and honoring my own beliefs and desires here.

And again, this morning, in a conversation about how dramatically linguistic standards have changed, I think I surprised my friend by saying I don't find it difficult to hold the grammar lines anymore but rather feel more and more that I embrace the changes in our language. This time I was the one to bring up Juno as a work that crystallized a new moment in the evolution of our public lexicon. If you imagine Juno having come out in the 1970s, people then would have been shocked and horrified at the crude language and innuendos and frank sexuality in a film about and in part aimed toward teenagers. It would have caused a cultural maelstrom (now there's a word I don't get the chance to use every day -- and notice how every and day are two separate words). Now, the language in Juno is not so far from what you can hear on prime time television shows (especially if you leave the sound up for the promos in between). Diablo Cody's genius in Juno and the reason I think she deserved the screenplay Oscar was that she captured something accurate about the youth culture here at this moment in the United States. Juno makes me feel more optimistic and less depressed about changes in the way we speak and interact, because I know we are all at once using this language in our own ways every day. I share Diablo Cody's faith in us.


Centrechick said...

haha, I believe the movie is Knocked UP not Knocked OUT but I love the unintentional error.

I agree with you about the characters in Knocked Up et al, but I highly recommend if you have not seen it, the series "Freaks and Geeks" which was amazing.

I was just talking with people at work today about how Apatow's earlier work had much more heart and how he peaked with Forty-year old Virgin and it has been downhill from there...

vanillagrrl said...

Hahaha -- that is funny! Duly edited, thanks!

I will give Freaks and Geeks a chance. And I didn't love FYOVirgin, either, though, so I have no attachment personally to his more recent, suckier stuff (what is it about blogs that encourage flare-ups of snarkiness?). I do want to see Pineapple Express, sorta, but that's not b/c of Judd Apatow but rather b/c I was intrigued by what I read about the director.