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Original Title:
Jeni, Juno

South Korea 2005

Romance, Comedy

Kim Ho-joon

Park Min-ji
Kim Hye-sung
Han Yeo-reum
Kim Ja-ok
Lim Dong-jin
Kang Nam-kil
Lee Eung-kyung

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Jenny Juno

Story: 15-year old Jenny (Park Min-ji) has to find out that she is pregnant. After she told her boyfriend Juno (Kim Hye-sung) and he doesn't consider running away like many others would, but instead is actually taking responsibility for his actions, the two decide against an abortion. They don't tell their parents about the pregnancy for as long as possible until it is too late to abort the child.
Jenny has to deal with mood swings, sudden ravenous appetite attacks and similar problems. However, Juno is always at her side and selflessly sacrifices himself for her and their future baby. The two secretly inform themselves of babies, how to raise them, attend baby-courses and visit hospitals. Nevertheless, the day when they have to tell their parents about the pregnancy draws near...

Review: With his controversial topic "My little Bride" director Kim Ho-joon did get lots of criticism in Korea. At first, it even looked like the movie would get a "Rated R", which would have meant, that it would totally miss its target audience. However, in the end it managed to get a "15" rating.
The subject "Jenny Juno" deals with actually is pretty interesting and could have been good material to make a good movie out of it, but Kim Ho-joon fails because of the way he approaches the matter, and most of all because of the message he tries to convey with his work.

After Jenny and Juno have watched a movie about abortion, which depicted it as murder on a living being, the two decide to keep their child. Your position concerning this matter and if you advocate abortions or despise them, as well as what you might think about anti-abortion-propaganda-films the way they are shown here, is absolutely irrelevant, because director Kim undoubtedly shows us an awfully one-dimensional picture of things, without going through the efforts to illuminate the topic from different angles. It's as if he wants tell the viewer that even a pair of 15-year old teenagers should choose life and get a baby. In "Jenny Juno" he doesn't even bother to consider that a child is something that demands a great amount of resonsibility and also experience. After all, to raise a child is not the same as caring for a tamagotchi!

The portrayal of the boy Juno, who is ready to claim responsibility for his actions and wants to grow up as fast as possible to be able to be a good father for his child is really something extraordinary and is definitely welcome! Nonetheless, somehow you get the feeling that the message is, that even as a "child" you are ready to get a baby. How disastrous when you consider the fact that the target audience could actually get the idea to reproduce! What about social coverage? What about your own education, occupational qualifications, how are you supposed to take care of your child, this way, and provide it with everything you always wanted yourself when being young?
"Jenny Juno" doesn't answer any of these serious questions, but instead just creates a happy and fluffy teeny-world in which everything proves to be no problem at all and eventually dissolves into nothingness.

Besides the questionable message of the movie, "Jenny Juno" also doesn't quite work as an entertainment movie. There is not enough story, the film oftentimes doesn't go anywhere or just doesn't know where to go, so that most of the time there seems to be happening nothing at all. At the end, however, every important aspect is compressed in only a few minutes. Almost as if one did get aware of the fact, that one had to end the movie, finally...
The only way the film can sustain the viewer's interest is by its warm and friendly atmosphere as it has become almost formulaic for Korean comedies. Furthermore, it delivers some jokes that can be quite amusing at times.

Despite all of this the actors are actually doing a fine job. Park Min-ji plays her role according to her mood changes, at times jealous, sometimes clingy in her behaviour and at others quite rejecting. She does so with ease and Kim Hye-sung also plays his part very credible and convincingly showing his will to grow up and his actual progress on this way. Kim Ho-joon made a good choice to cast two fresh faces for the lead roles. The relationship between the two is nice to watch, yet it is somehow strange to see how shy and timid they are towards each other. Even though the two were actually 15 years old when shooting the movie, it would have added to the credibility if they had kissed each other at least once. Actually, they did go for something more before, so why being so shy now...

"Jenny Juno" also has a few more serious moments, which is no wonder having in mind what the film's subject really is, and these scenes are in fact quite convincing. The unbiasedness and the happy-go-lucky character of the protagonists on the other hand just don't fit into the picture. The last scene even puts the lid on this semi-fabricated flick. Why do they have to zoom out and show the set of the movie, while all of the actors gather to wave their hands? It's almost as if the director wanted to dissociate from his work and was eager to show us that it's all just good-hearted fluffy entertainment.

"Jenny Juno" doesn't really work out as a movie, its message is questionable to say the least, nevertheless, if you can't get enough of teeny comedies this one is for you.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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