Monday, February 25, 2008


I've been meaning to write a brief review of Juno. Andrew and I saw it on our weekend away and thoroughly enjoyed it. We were disappointed last night that it wasn't awarded more at the Oscars but pleased that it had been nominated.

As adoptive parents, I'm sure we saw this movie through different eyes than the average viewer. We not only appreciated the pro-adoption message but were deeply touched and challenged.

Juno is a highschool student who fools around with a friend and ends up pregnant. She plans to have an abortion but cannot go through with it after a comment by a classmate who is protesting outside of the local abortion clinic. She tells her father and stepmother; they are surprisingly supportive and while they ask if she has considered abortion, they accept that she has chosen an adoption plan and abortion is not mentioned again. While Juno's view of life could be considered flip and she is certainly very cavalier in her communication, I found it refreshing that despite the challenges, she stuck with her pro-life plan.

We felt for the potential adoptive parents. The meeting between Juno and them was a bit heart wrenching for us to watch. We saw (and felt) the desperation that Jennifer Garner's character was clearly trying to hide. She glossed over the unintentionally insensitive remarks made by Juno but we felt every single one of them.

Our hearts overflowed when the baby was placed in his new mother's arms. We could feel those emotions, too. I think tears brimmed both of our eyes. The beautiful gift Juno gave to this mother was incredible. Juno had no idea how much she had blessed this woman who longed to be a mother.

Ellen Page is brilliant as Juno. Allison Janney plays her stepmother and has a fierce love for her stepdaughter who she totally sees as her own child. Juno's dad (J.K. Simmons) is an involved dad and even volunteers (or rather insists) to meet any potential adoptive families with her. You also see the developing romance between Juno and the birthfather (Michael Cera) towards the end of the movie.

All in all, a wonderful film! Exceptional acting and a skillfully crafted script. We came away feeling a little emotionally drained but we couldn't stop talking about it! Being adoptive parents and adoption advocates, we found it encouraging that the film has been so well received!

As a HUGE caveat, it is NOT for all audiences. It has a lot of language, sexual situations and conversations, and adult themes. We were disappointed in the amount of language and crude elements. If you watch it, please be aware that we do not endorse all aspects of the film.

**EDITED: Check out the comments section for some excellent and true points by Loraena.**


Mob said...

I'm so glad you wrote this post. I haven't seen the movie yet, but have in Netflix'd. I just had to know how it ended, so I looked it up on the internet and found out. I think this movie is going to boost the interest in adoption. I hope it makes women feel as though they have another option other than abortion.

Loraena said...

Josh and I liked this movie, too although I have to admit that it didn't quite meet my expectations on the adoption aspect.

Having just been through the adoption process, I was a little unhappy with some of the portrayals of the actual process itself. My biggest complaints are these:

1). The adoptive parents asked Juno at the first meeting, "Are you looking for any other form of compensation?" My understanding is that any compensation other than needs deemed necessary for the bm's and/or baby's well-being during pregnancy, birth & recovery by a judge could be constituted as baby-buying and no legit adoption lawyer would have condoned them asking/offering that.

Secondly, it is HIGHLY unlikely that a couple would have been that far along in the adoption process without the husband's reluctance coming to surface sooner. The homestudy process is designed to look for things like that. Without a healthy marriage and an evident desire to tackle the task of parenthood and unique challenges of adoption, he would never have been approved by the state - and even private adoptions require homestudies. An adoption social worker would have picked up on his inconsistencies.

I realize that every state has different laws and some processes may not be the same, but most adoption workers are going to be very careful that both parents are up for the task.

Overall, I loved the realistic characters and incredibly artistic style of the film. I loved the music! I loved the pro-life message. But while it appears to be pro-adoption and is probably great for raising adoption awareness and interest, I am disappointed that it didn't do more to dispel some of the myths surrounding domestic adoption.

Sorry to hijack your comments with this! I thought about posting my own review and decided against it, but I couldn't resist sharing my thoughts on yours. =)

Alaina said...

That is true Loraena, having not been through domestic (yet :)), I didn't think about it failing to dispel some of the myths. We already know them to be myths so pretty much ignored them. :)

And I perhaps should have added that the we were rather disappointed in the adoptive father's attitudes and actions - I could tell from the first meeting that he was not *in* to it. And yes, their social worker definitely failed them and sadly Jennifer Garner's character refused to acknowledge the distance between them. She allowed her desire to be a mother to overshadow the warning signs that her marriage was in trouble.

As far as Hollywood goes, I guess we anticipate that it will never fully reflect reality and we were pleased with the overall attempt. :) We were happy to see that they didn't portray adoption as really weird or undoable.

Great points, thanks for sharing them!

Heather L. said...

Thanks for the review! i'm looking forward to seeing this.

Rachel said...

Thanks for the review. Every review I've read, from both Christian and non-Christian sources, loved this movie, so I'm looking forward to seeing it.

It was also mentioned in World recently (the cover has a baby on it and is about Roe v. Wade) about how hollywood is turning more Pro-life in movie and TV. Very interesting article if you're interested. (It is less about adoption than about abortion, but World is very pro-adoption).

Jen said...

I have been waiting for this post!! I watched it as well and thought it was excellent! Juno's refreshing honesty, though a bit flippant was my favorite part.

In response to Loraena's comments....maybe I am totally forgetting or of course never been through this process, but I thought Juno found the couple through an ad..almost like Craig's list so it was not through the "system" so normal procedures or policies maybe different?

Maybe not...I don't know how that works, when the parties are pursuing it on their own?? I would be interested in knowing...

Alaina said...

Thanks for the article Rachel!

Hey Jen! Even when pursuing it through privately placing ads, they still have to follow the laws of the state. Any ethical adoption attorney would know those laws. For instance, in Indiana you can only pay a maximum of 3K to defray living expenses and needs of the birthmom (separate from medical). We haven't been through it but there are certainly laws in place that would prevent "buying" a baby or other things. It is in the best interest of all parties but especially the child involved. No matter how an adoption comes about (private, agency etc.) it has to follow the same laws. Anyway, that's all I know :) - Loraena? :)

Rachel said...

Another point, which you talked about in your review, was that of the stepmother being portrayed in a positive relationship with her stepdaughter. Another reviewer I read, who is a stepmother herself, said that it's very uncommon to see positive step-relationships in movies and on TV.

This only solidifies the pro-adoption stance further by showing how people can and do love children that they didn't actually give birth to. It's not something I probably would've thought of on my own, not having had any experience as a step-parent.

Nathan said...

We also really like the movie. We are big fans of Arrested development so it was cool to see Jason Bateman and Michael Cera together.