The movie Juno, family facades and brokenness…

Saturday night my wife and I went to the movies. Now that’s a treat these days since we have a baby at home. So when we do decide to go to a movie, we are pretty picky. Basically, it better be worth it. We decided to go see Juno based on the strength of great recommendations from our friends who have seen it. That turned out to be a great decision because we absolutely loved the movie. This is the first movie in a long time that both my wife and I left saying to each other, “that is one of the best movies we have seen in a year or more.”

There are a lot of reasons why I liked the movie so much, but I think bottom line for me: It painted a good portrait I thought of everyday American life, and the brokenness, struggles and challenges that many Americans are faced with, and the humor, anger and the whole gamut of emotions that go along with being human.

I’ve spent all of my life in the church, and about 9 years in vocational ministry. And from my experience, though you would think to the contrary, the church is sometimes the last place where the everyday brokenness of people and families is accepted and supported. What do I mean by that? I think in the church we spend most of our time judging other people and families and they way they live their life or the good or bad choices they make. This experience would have clouded my viewing of Juno, if not for the fact that I finished up a year practicum in a community mental health family clinic in 2007. More than any place I have worked, served, etc., that was truly a place where one was privy to the full spectrum of people’s and family’s experiences, both broken and redemptive. And I think it’s because of that experience that I was truly able to just love the movie Juno.

There were so many beautiful scenes in the movie: Juno asking her father if it was possible for people to love each other forever…that she needed to know that was true. To the amazing banter and dialogue. To the touching scene of her boyfriend and father of her child just laying silently with her on the hospital bed, knowing that there were no words to make the situation better. To the touching scene at the end of them singing the song to each other.

I found the movie refreshing and redemptive on so many levels, and partly because they didn’t try to make the audience feel better and push for another ending. It was just real life. Real teenage and American family life.

As I finish up this post I have been thinking about one of the more striking paradoxes in the movie. One the one hand you have this what seems to be middle to lower class family with Juno’s family, in contrast to the upper middle class family that wants to adopt the baby and that lives in the nice suburbs where every house looks the same, and the home appears to be the epitome of what American life should be. But in reality, both homes were struggling and broken, but the upper middle class home that tried to keep up appearances and pretend that everything was okay was the one that ultimately fell apart.

I’m not making a statement about socio-economics here, or the suburbs vs. the city, etc. But rather, often the family that looks like they have it all together is the one that is falling apart. Often, the things that we strive for that we think will make our life perfect (i.e. money, perfect house, the right clothes, job, etc.) are sometimes just a facade for the brokenness and hurt underneath.

Those two things were bridged though I think in the final scenes when the two worlds come colliding together through the adoption and they are able to be a part of each other’s lives.

Have you seen Juno? What did you think about it? Did you recommend it to others, why or why not?

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