I took the girls to see Juno last week. If you have not heard, Juno is the latest in the "pro-life" genre of films coming out this season. Unlike Bella, Juno is a comedy, and it's a great film, but...
I wish I had not taken my 14 year old. The film is rated PG-13. In another day, it might have been rated R. It was full of references to se*ual matters, anatomy, and birth control, and there was a fair amount of crude language. The opening scene has us looking into a room as a boy sits unclothed on a chair and Juno (the title character) removes what is left of her attire (though we don't see her, just her clothes). Most of this was tolerable for my 17 year old, who has been aware of most of the issues...but my 14 year old is "younger" and was a bit shocked.
So, why was it good? It was smart, funny, and the pro-life message was clear. And the target audience is the vast majority of teens: Public school kids who already know it all, or think they do. Sadly, none of this was shocking to the audience, made up mostly, in our theater, of teen girls. But the film seemed smarter than the audience at times. Yeah, sometimes we were the only ones laughing.
The scene at the abortion mill was brilliant and creepy. Outside, a lone girl, a friend of Juno's, carries a sign and calls out to Juno, telling her that her baby has fingernails. Inside, a bored, overly pierced receptionist offers Juno a condom as she is filling out papers. We look with Juno around the room through a surreal lens, focusing on the fingernails of the folks in the waiting room. She rushes out of the place, and goes home to tell her parents (who were some of the best characters in a film, ever). The film was worth seeing for this whole scene alone.
In a world where 12 year olds are se*ualy "active" (the stepmother in the film attributes this to boredom), Juno has a necessary message, delivered in a package that will appeal to teens. That we need a film like this to get the message across is disturbing, but I'm glad someone had the guts to make Juno. It's heroic.