Gender Roles – Men
Self-Esteem and Body Image
Language and Sexual Content
Room for Improvement:
Gender Roles – Women
Gender Roles - Men: 4 stars
Paulie Bleeker is a mild-mannered guy with a good heart. He isn’t very confident or assertive, but he does have the strength to tell Juno how he feels about her, and stands up for himself when she berates him. Bleeker is nothing like the traditional high school heartthrob that all the girls are in love with. But Juno shows us that the nice guy is just as cool and attractive as the football stars and the bad boys. He clearly loves and respects Juno. It’s just too bad that it takes her so long to figure it out.
Self-Esteem and Body Image: 5 stars
Juno is clearly very comfortable in her own skin. Even as her pregnancy begins to develop, she is brash and punchy, maintaining her dignity throughout the entire ordeal. To a large degree, Juno glosses over the difficulties that come with pregnancy, especially as a high school student who has committed to giving her baby up for adoption. As a result, it’s easy to assume that her relaxed attitude is more of a façade, and that she’s hiding more turbulent emotions behind her sharp jokes. Even if this is the case, however, Juno does show us a more confident, grounded version of a teenage girl, who has the strength and maturity to face a very adult situation.
Plot: 4.5 stars
Despite her cavalier attitude about her pregnancy, Juno makes an impressive sacrifice for her baby and for the adoptive mother, Vanessa. She makes the difficult choice to carry her baby to term, and then to surrender her child to a family that can give the baby a more comfortable life. Juno comes from a very loving and supporting family which could have helped her with childcare and expenses had she chosen to keep the baby. Unfortunately, the film never really addresses this alternative possibility. Because the film doesn’t fully portray the pressure and emotion behind such a difficult choice, we aren’t left with a fair sense of just how strong Juno had to be to come to and stand by her decision. But if we read between the lines, we can appreciate the selflessness of what she did.
Character Development: 4 stars
Juno has a bold personality from the beginning, and takes on her unwanted pregnancy without tears or apology. But it’s easy to see that her abrasive nature is sometimes masking deeper vulnerabilities. She’s clearly too afraid to acknowledge her feelings for Bleeker and responds with jealousy and venom when she learns that he might be involved with someone else. At times, this attitude makes her unlikable, but it also keeps her real and human. Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of Juno is that it doesn’t ever address Juno’s feelings about surrendering her unborn child. The film could have given us some powerful dialogue around the fact that Juno was abandoned by her own mother, and yet she somehow finds herself doing the same to her unborn child. But Juno is more of a comedy than a drama, and the film doesn’t do much more than scratch the surface of Juno’s feelings. Despite these limitations, however, we’re still given a complex and interesting character to follow.
Love: 4 stars
Juno and Bleeker begin their relationship as friends. They don’t have a lot of interaction during the film, but we can tell that they have a solid foundation to build their relationship on. Juno is sometimes mean and selfish with Bleeker. She hides her feelings and continually rebuffs him, even when he has the courage to put his heart on the line. She never speaks to him about her decision to keep that baby or to give the baby up for adoption. In so many ways, Juno mistreats Bleeker the way that men mistreat women in similar films. The saving grace in Juno is that she does eventually make it up to Bleeker, - and even apologizes.
Language and Sexual Content: 4.5 stars
For a film that deals with an unexpected teenage pregnancy, Juno does an impressive job of avoiding any pejorative labels for sexually active girls. It introduces the topic of abortion without judgment or commentary, and approaches pregnancy from an unemotional perspective. Juno includes very little actual sex, but intimates on more than one occasion that it was Juno, rather than Bleeker, who initiated it. The sex scene is a bit odd and almost mechanical. It doesn’t include any kissing, foreplay or other suggestions of sensuality, but at the very least, it was a comfortable and shameless intimate moment that helps bring two people together.
Family: 4 stars
Juno has a strong support system, which may be part of the reason for her confidence and strong-willed nature. Her father and stepmother are kind and approachable parents. They are reasonably concerned and disappointed when they find out about the pregnancy, but they respect Juno's decision to give the baby up for adoption. They never have a serious talk with her about what she’s giving up, or why this is the right decision for her future, but they support her through the process.
Friendship: 3 stars
Juno’s friend Leah is refreshingly supportive and understanding. Though she deals with the situation through jokes and immaturity, she is right beside Juno through all of her difficult milestones. In many ways, Leah is more involved in Juno’s journey that Bleeker is. Leah and Juno never share a truly serious discussion about what Juno is up against, or how she ought to mend her relationship with Bleeker, but it’s clear that they can count on each other whatever the situation.
Gender Roles - Women: 3 stars
Juno is witty and snarky and unafraid of voicing her opinions on anything from music to abortion. She clearly exercises independent judgment and makes difficult decisions throughout the film. What Juno doesn’t do, is give us an accurate glimpse of how hard these decisions are or how they are affecting her emotionally. As a result, she occasionally comes off as clueless or in denial, rather than strong or admirable. We also don’t know much about Juno’s life or goals outside of her unplanned pregnancy. She loves music and horror flicks, but she doesn’t seem to have much of a life plan.