By Aaron Burkhalter
Midway through the world’s new favorite teen-pregnancy film Ellen Page, playing the title character, meets the grunge-savvy Jason Bateman who believes music peaked in the early 90’s with Nirvana. Page makes the case for 1970’s punk, claiming The Stooges, Patti Smith and the Runaways as her favorites.
That would all be fine if not for the cutsie-pie soundtrack that backed this tale. We never see Page’s record collection but at no point do we hear any music resembling what she claims to love.
In its worst contrast, Page spits at Bateman that Sonic Youth is, “nothing but noise.” How does someone who lists Iggy on her top three then turn around and hate on Sonic Youth, let alone not even know who they are until an over-the-hill grunger recommends them?
I don’t believe Juno needs to be more punk, just to admit that the girl is more 1990s Olympia than 1970s New York.
She’s into the anti-grunge, uber-cute, Mo Tucker-worshipping, sweater-wearing nerds who created the sound I loved in high school. Bands like The Softies or Tiger Trap. Bands who consider I.R.S-era R.E.M. a little rough around the edges. Bands who adorn their record covers with cartoon mammals.
I still like the soundtrack as Dawson sings lines like, “Joey never saw a bicycle he didn’t want to ride/ And I’ve never met a Toby that I didn’t like,” next to Barry Louis Polisar’s “All I Want Is You.” Between 30-second to minute-long instrumentals by Dawson, it plays like a meticulously crafted mix-tape; a grand accomplishment rarely attained by film soundtracks.
But as a mix-tape with tracks from Belle and Sebastian and The Velvet Underground, I call foul on the producers dropping names like Iggy and Patti Smith for the sake of shallow character development. I’d rather the film and soundtrack fully embrace the atmosphere it aims to create.
I don’t respect the film less because Juno prefers Mo Tucker to Joan Jett. I just want to call the film and its soundtrack what it is… twee as fuck. – (7/10)