Thursday, January 10, 2013

The First 15 Minutes Project: Juno McGuff in Juno

Juno is halfway between Max and Cady: not desperate to fit in and willing to alienate everybody, but still pretty vulnerable and lost.

Re-watching this confirmed something I’d noticed before: the first ten minutes, with its wall-to-wall terrible hipster dialogue, is entirely different from the rest. As soon as the very grounded character of Bleeker is introduced, the sheer force of his reality obliterates all that phoniness, and most of the dialogue from there on out is beautifully written and real.

So why the atrocious beginning? One clue is to be found in the deleted scenes, where we learn that the atrocious first 10 minutes was actually 20 minutes that got cut way down. This implies that writer Diablo Cody was flailing around and finding her way, until the introduction of Bleeker forced her to settle down and discover that she actually could write if she suppressed her hipster instincts.

Ironically, I think that the script only sold because of that hipster dialogue at the beginning, which indicated to Hollywood that they had found “a fresh new voice” (Director Jason Reitman even says in the commentary that one of the lines he cut was the one that made him want to direct it.) Hollywood tried to buy a bad too-cool-for-school movie and accidentally ended up with a good one, because none of the buyers, thankfully, read beyond the first twenty pages.
  1. Onscreen title over black: Autumn 
  2. Juno stands in a yard looking at an easy boy chair on a lawn. A dog barks, making her say “Geez banana, shut your freaking gob, okay?” Voiceover: “This is the most magnificent discarded living room set I’ve ever seen. It all started with a chair…” 
  3. Flashback to Juno having awkward sex with an unseen kid her age in lazy-boy-style chair.
  4. Juno walks along the sidewalk drinking Sunny Delight, as a hipster-folk song kicks in and she walks through animated credits. 
  5. Animation ends as Juno enters a drugstore, exchanges hipster dialogue with the guy running the store. She’s there to have her third pregnancy test after not trusting the first two that were both positive. This one’s positive, too. “This is one doodle that can’t be undid, home skillet.” She buys a several-foot long strip of Twizzlers.
  6. She goes home and turns it into a noose and throws the noose around the tree. 
  7. She calls her friend on a burger phone. “I’m pregnant.” “Honest to blog?” They discuss where she’ll get an abortion. Juno says she needs her help though…
  8. …Juno and her friend pick up that discarded chair. 
  9. They talk about Bleeker, intercut with a flash 
  10. Intro Bleeker montage getting ready for a run: putting deodorant on his thighs, making himself a hot pocket. 
  11. Bleeker comes out to find Juno sitting on his lawn in the living room set. Guys run by and she thinks about their pork swords. She tells Bleeker that she’s pregnant. He quietly freaks out and then says “What should we do?” She says she’s gonna “nip it in the bud.” Somewhat vulnerable, she asks “Is that okay with you?” He says yeah, disappointing her.
  12. At her locker, she gets heckled by a bully, but then she explains to us in voiceover that he really likes her. “Jocks like him always want freaky girls with horn-rimmed glasses, who, like, play the cello and read McSweeny’s and wanna be children’s librarians when they grow up. They just won’t admit it because they’re supposed to be into, like, the perfect cheerleaders, you know? Like Leah, who, incidentally, is into teachers.” She watches Leah flirt with a teacher and chuckles.
  13. In chemistry class, Juno and Bleeker are partners with another girl and guy who are going out and bickering (see: clones). “Well, there’s nothing like experimentin’.” “Who’s ready for some chromo-magnificence?” She tries joking around but Bleeker isn’t in the mood for jokes, disappointing her.
  14. At home, Juno uses her burger phone to call the number from an abortion ad in the back of a paper. “Hi, I’m just calling to procure a hasty abortion. Can you hold on just a second, I’m on my hamburger phone…” She has to shake the hamburger phone to get it to work. We find out it’s been two months already. 
  15. While talking, she imagines a teacher putting a condom on a banana. 
  16. Montage: she introduces us to her dad, step-mom, and absent mom.
  17. In the morning, she has breakfast with her family. Her step-mom accuses her of throwing up in her urn, correctly, as we seen in a quick flashback. 
  18. Juno arrives at the clinic to get an abortion. An acquaintance from school is protesting out in front. “Your baby probably has a beating heart, you know, and it can feel pain. And it has fingernails.” Juno turns, “Fingernails? Really?”
  19. Juno enters and checks in. She begins to imagine her fetus’s heartbeat. 
  20. Juno runs to her friend’s house. She wants to have the baby. They decide to look for adoption ads in the Penny-Saver. (actually at 21 minutes here). 
  21. Juno doesn’t like the ads, “I just like, I don’t want to give the baby to a couple that describes themselves as ‘wholesome’, I just want someone a little more edgier, I was thinking more like: graphic designer, mid-‘30s, with an Asian girlfriend who plays bass.” She picks a couple…

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

'The first ten minutes, with its wall-to-wall terrible hipster dialogue.'

The rest of the film isn't better. Diablo Cody is a talentless and overrated hack and Juno is the most blatant pro-life argument filmed this side of Kirk Cameron. The only explanation I can find to her Hollywood success is her talent for self-promotion, her nasty tattoos and her past as a lap-dancer.