What will it take for film critics to be satisfied with movies about young, unmarried pregnant women?
For most, a clever script and outstanding performances will suffice, but not so for Lisa Schwarzbaum, a film critic for Entertainment Weekly. It must also carry a weighty discussion on the "hard-won, precious rights" to choose.
"Juno," the latest film about an unintended pregnancy carried to term, opens nationwide December 14. The movie reportedly depicts Juno, the pregnant 16-year-old lead character, deciding to place her baby for adoption after a chance encounter with a pro-life protester at an abortion clinic.
Schwarzbaum said in her review of the film, "The old-school feminist in me wishes ‘Juno' spent more time, even a tart sentence or two, acknowledging that the options taken for granted by this one attractive, articulate teen are in fact hard-won, precious rights, and need to be guarded by a new-generation army of Junos and Bleekers, spreading the word by text message as well as by hamburger phone."
It's particularly strange that Schwarzbaum would choose to launch a feminist argument at the one movie tackling unmarried pregnancy in which abortion is considered a viable option.
Apparently Schwarzbaum's "old-school feminist" was on summer vacation when she wrote her review of the crude summer hit, "Knocked Up." She failed to criticize that movie for not containing serious discussions of abortion, even while many other critics did so, as the Culture and Media Institute reported last July. Surprising decision considering that the only references to abortion in "Knocked Up" are from a friend who when discussing options, said "I won't say it but it rhymes with shmashmortion" and from the lead character's mother who urges her to "take care of" the pregnancy so she can have a "real" baby when the time is right.
Is Schwarzbaum's real problem with "Juno" the fact that abortion isn't depicted as a "hard-won, precious right" or because it depicts an abortion-minded young women who decides to carry her pregnancy to term?
Schwarzbaum did overcome her feminist qualms to give "Juno" an A-, which is in line with what other critics are saying about the film. As of December 6, it's rated a solid 92 percent on rottentomatoes.com.