The movie Juno, which only this week was bumped from the number two spot in DVD rentals, has been at the top of the rental charts since its release on April 15th . Kids love it.
I, however, am a little torn.
If you work with youth or have kids, you’ve probably already heard about this film about a young girl that gets pregnant and decides to keep the child and put it up for adoption (I mentioned this film in a previous blog about the surprising number of secular films this year with pro-life themes). Kids love Juno and critics are raving about it. I’ve even heard the youth ministry community praising it. And I can see why youth workers enjoy the movie– it’s an authentic look at youth culture today. But I have to admit, I struggled with this film.
Here were my thoughts that I recently added to our ministry’s movie review page:
JUNO FILM REVIEW
This film had me torn from the beginning.
If you’re like me, you went into this film hearing all the hype about what a wonderful film this is, Oscar potential, blah, blah, blah. (Besides… do the words “Oscar potential” mean anything to you? Did you actually see There Will Be Blood? Zzzzzzzzzz) Everyone is recommending Juno. So I admit… I had high expectations going into it.
To summarize my thoughts I’ll have to resort to bullets for this one.
- Ellen Page was really a likable character, warts and all. She reminded me of several of my Campus Life kids from back in the day.
- Jennifer Garner was surprisingly good. She wasn’t the typical “Alias” eye candy… she did some real acting here.
- Like so many films this year, the value of life was communicated… even if in an awkward way.
- The characters were very real. Very 2007. Not just a bunch of “actor models” who got the roles… but real people. Very convincing.
- I had heard that this was a good film for teenagers. In one of the first scenes we see a shot of a girl’s legs as her panties are dropped to the floor. Then she climbs on top of a guy. Yes, they didn’t show nudity. Yes, I know that’s what the film was about (a girl getting pregnant). But guess what… I don’t want my kids seeing the action- even just the beginning of it.
- Juno was a fun character, but she was really foul. I have loved plenty of kids like this in my ministry and still do. But in this film, she was almost a role model. Her bad decisions, her lack of tact, and her foul mouth were almost given a stamp of approval. I realize that this is a hard balance to find. I love kids like this. But it doesn’t mean that I want kids to grow up thinking that it is “okay” to grow up acting like that.
- The film showed very little consequences of behavior. The film was fun and light, and I think those elements made the movie enjoyable. But the film didn’t seem to show any of the pain or consequences from the behaviors. Sure, Juno got pregnant. But it was treated like, “no big deal.”
- Similar to the last two bullets, this film contained a lot of immitatable behavior. And being that this is currently the MOST popular rental of the year… wow!
SHOULD KIDS SEE IT?
I think that most kids shouldn’t see it. I might show my older teenagers this film when they are 16 or older (depending on their maturity) if we went to dinner and talked about the film afterwards. I would need to talk through the bullets highlighted above.
But there is no way I’d show this to junior higher or younger. Come on people– how fast do we want our kids to grow up? Yes, I’m a huge advocate of talking with our kids about real life. But we don’t need to shove it down their throats early. Let it come as it comes. And then be open for those conversations.