Junebug Reviews

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Super Reviewer
August 8, 2010
There are many lovely things about this indie darling from screenwriter Angus MacLachlan and director Phil Morrison, and many little things that make it the obviously trying too hard quirky film everyone thinks it is. These little things amount to very little, as previously stated. It's mostly details, including the strange artist living in the middle of nowhere, painting slightly racist, obviously crazy paintings, and the strange and yet overt religious overtones. The anachronistic feeling of the film is lent to the setting for the film which is in the very rustic, Bible thumping South, complete with characters that are stuck in the past as well. Besides the family looking backwards to find their convictions, they're also far from the keen eye of outsiders. A family, (Wilson and Weston as the parents) seemingly separated from people outside of their community, await the birth of a new baby while lamenting the lost life of their son. He is married to his high school sweetheart, and remains repressed thanks to his own despair towards his own life. His brother, George, (Nivola) marries an extreme outsider, who does love the man, but resembles someone else entirely from themselves. The person who steals the entire show remains Amy Adams, and it's in the first couple of seconds onscreen that you understand why she was nominated for an Academy Award. The character of Ashley is bubbly, always trying too hard, and always wants the best for the future. Though her circumstances are inevitably going to get worse when her baby arrives, she believes that it will bring her and her husband together once more. It's definitely an actor's movie, and though Adams does steal the show, every single person in this film comes off genuine and interesting. Embeth Davidtz, who plays the main character, Madeleine, is very engaging if flawed, but she is also playing someone who is seemingly soft-hearted. It has some problems overall, but it's definitely worth watching, and it is strangely entertaining to see a family collapse without a leader.
hunterjt13
Super Reviewer
June 23, 2013
An urbanite couple returns to the South to visit one's family and pursue an artist.
There are aspects of the South that this film captures that I've rarely seen expressed so clearly and accurately on film. The odd inferiority complex, which is the most prominent and elusive, the commitment to religion, the familial devotion, the silent father, the nosey neighbor, the verdant landscape, the meddling mother, the racist, loyal Confederate artist -- all of it is here and expressed in all its honorable integrity and ridiculousness. The film is an achievement on the level of Faulkner in this way, but it obviously lacks in others.
Amy Adams's break-through performance is the film's highlight, and Adams is both charming and annoying. Her work embodies the film's embrasure of contradictions, which is why she fits so well with the rest of the strong ensemble.
I think the film didn't fully get at the root of the family's dysfunction, as Super Reviewer Alice Shen pointed out, but I also think the film was caught betwixt and between on whether or not to judge these characters.
Overall, Junebug is a fantastic addition to film's attempt to capture the South.
Super Reviewer
July 11, 2012
Fish out of water tale has college edujumakated art gallery manager goin ta meet up wit hubby's "at least we ain't got no fancy airs") downhome family ... and it's no bed of roses, that's for sure. And the unpleasantness happens just as our world traveller is trying to woo the South in the form of a blossoming curmudgeony outsider artist. Social observations via light (very light) comedy.
cosmo313
Super Reviewer
January 4, 2012
If The Station Agent is a good example of how to make a good indie movie out of typical indie movie subject matter, then this is an example of trying way too hard, and despite the best of efforts, not quite making it.

An art gallery owner who specializes in outsider art named Madeleine gets into a whirlwind marriage with a guy named George who has successfully managed to mask his North Carolina upbringing. While on a trip to North Carolina to woo a promising artist, Madeleine also gets the chance to meet her new in-laws and, needless to say, it's a real fish out of water sort of thing. George's dad is mostly silent and withdrawn, his mom is really skeptical and disapproving, his borther is surly and quick to anger, and the only one who really seems to be welcoming is George's very pregnant sister-in-law Ashley who is overwhelmingly excitable, talkative, enthusiastic, and naive. She also might seriously need some Ritalin, too.

The set up is basically a quirky version of Meet The Parents, and, for the most part, I did enjoy it. However, the film is really prone to thigns that bug me about indies: jarring transitions with lots of silence and a camera that lingers on too long, character changes that come jsut for the sake of story that seem a little too forced, and that feeling of not so subtle "look at me, I'm not a mainstream film!" that comes up A LOT. The film does have lots of plot threads that are left untied at the end, but that was something I actually liked.

I wasn't bored to tears, but I was kinda bored because I could see where this was going, and was pretty accurate in my guessings. Sometimes that's okay, but with this film it just rubbed me the wrong way a little too much. The performances are at least really good, especially from Amy Adams who really steals the show as Ashley. I felt that Nivola was miscast as George, and it also bugged me that his character was not really there to do a whole lot, and he really didn't weigh in as much with his wife's situation as he should have, but at least it wasn't handled worse than it is.

All in all, this is okay, but not as special as it thinks it is. A lot of this is forced, pretentious, and didn't grab me like it should have. Like I said though, the performances are what ultyimately holds it together.
Super Reviewer
½ May 4, 2011
Following on from this, screenwriter Angus MacLachlan wrote the Robert DeNiro/Edward Norton film "Stone". Unfortunately, it wasn't in the same league but we've yet to see what director Phil Morrison delivers after this heartfelt independant gem of a film, which remains his one and only feature so far.
On the trail of an eccentric artist in North Carolina, a recently wed Chicago gallery owner (Embeth Davidtz) gets to meet her new family. But while her pregnant sister-in-law (Amy Adams) gushes with enthusiasm, the rest of the household afford a more muted and reserved welcome.
This is a film that could easily have fallen prey to cliche but skillfully manages to avoid it and crafts a wonderfully nuanced character study and earnest portrait of family pressures. The level of uncomfortable communication between this dysfunctional family is astutely captured and subtly delivered with an array of different personalities on screen and a perfect ensemble of actors bringing them to life. Amy Adams is a particular standout, radiating positivity as the loquacious, heavily pregnant in-law and the only one who seems to have any joy in life. You can almost feel the discomfort and awkwardness from the characters and the situations but despite this, we are still shown glimpses of the bond between them in their fragile, yet solid family unit.
A wise and emotionally powerful treat that's not short on humour or pathos, making it a near flawless piece of craftsmanship by all involved and a reminder that American cinema doesn't always need to be bang for your buck.
flixsterman
Super Reviewer
½ January 9, 2009
I know it's set in North Carolina but this could just as easily be Oklahoma (with a few minor adjustments in dialect). I see so much of my own family in this film that it's downright spooky! Very nicely done.
MANUGINO
Super Reviewer
February 3, 2010
The movie is good but felt weird the whole time watching it, the main theme was boring and the main characters except Amy Adams didn't bring anything really good to the table, overall movie mediocre!

A dealer in outsider art threatens the equilibrium of her middle-class in-laws in North Carolina. Madeline is a go-getting art gallery owner from Chicago, recently married to George, a near-perfect Southern beau. When Madeline needs to close a deal with a reclusive North Carolina artist, George introduces her to his family: prickly mother Peg, taciturn father Eugene, cranky brother Johnny, and Johnny's pregnant, childlike wife Ashley, who is awe-struck by her glamorous sister-in-law. Madeline's presence exposes the fragile family dynamics as hidden resentments and anxieties surface.
Bill D 2007
Super Reviewer
½ October 16, 2009
"Junebug" is an unusual, intelligent film that explores unhappy subject matter. A well-educated thirtysomething man from Chicago takes his new wife home to North Carolina to meet his uneducated and emotionally damaged family. Once you see their extraordinary damage, it's not surprising that he was not in too much of a hurry to introduce her to them.

Dad is so shell-shocked that he walks around in a stupor. He still has a lot of love in his heart, but it's barely visible under the layers of disappointment. Mom, played very well by the always-underrated Celia Weston, is a walking scorpion, eager to sting everyone with whom she comes into contact. She takes an instant dislike to her new daughter-in-law.

Then there's little Johnny, a twentysomething loser who is about to become a father. Johnny has an inexplicable hatred for his big-city brother. In one almost-preposterous scene, Johnny throws a wrench at his brother, hitting him in the head, in a completely unprovoked attack. Johnny's wife is played by Amy Adams, who rocketed to fame almost immediately after the film was released and received a supporting-actress Oscar nomination. Adams does do an exceptional job here. It's very hard for actors to play characters who have less education than they do, so Adams' achievement is all the more noteworthy.

The downside of the film is that it often feels like a TV dramedy along the lines of "Brothers and Sisters." Sometimes it's impossibly cloying and obvious. But at other times director Phil Morrison, who is still a relative newcomer to film, stylizes his scenes with uncommon artistry. I was especially taken with his skills as an ethnographer, introducing his audience to the unique rhythms, textures, and sights of small-town Carolina life. Frequently he pauses the action and turns his camera to the town where the film was shot and beautifully drinks in the sights.

But by the same token, these moves were a little distancing. At almost every moment Morrison seemed hyper-aware of himself as a refugee from towns such as this. Rather than identifying with his small-town characters, he seems to consider them odd specimens. I sensed a big-city arrogance to a number of his shots, which made my skin crawl. Has he really never met an uneducated person as interesting, smart, and unique as he? How sad -- and pathetic. He's got to get out of the city more often and drop his arrogant guard so he can actually encounter people. That's called being a true artist.

But then again, at least Mr. Morrison is trying to venture out of big cities. Most artists never get even that far. He has a long way to go, but he might turn out to be one of the most exciting and unique directors of the early 21st century.
Super Reviewer
September 14, 2009
I?d wanted to see this for so long but unfortunately, It was not worth the wait. Amy Adams is great but she is let down by the rest of the cast and the lame story! See it just for her performance.
Super Reviewer
½ May 28, 2009
Maybe there are people like this in the world, maybe I don't care. Junebug is such a banal film with such little ambition that it's hard to think of good or bad things to say about it. Nivola and his new wife Davidtz, go to see his parents. It's kind of like Meet the Parents, but all the snide remarks are said under their breath. Bad things are said and people just accept it. Ben Mckenzie is the real standout of this film. He actually tries to create some conflict but he is simply ignored. Him and Amy Adams as his bizarrely jolly wife would have made a better focal point. We only see McKenzie happy at his place of work. He hits on his brother's wife, talks down to his own wife and shows disdain for his baby that's on the way. But one interesting character doesn't make a great film. How good would The Dark Knight have been if Batman had ignored all of The Joker's evil schemes? Good, but pointless.
Super Reviewer
July 11, 2007
A unique portrait of a lifestyle that might seem foreign to many audiences. I loved it! And Amy Adams gives one of the best performances I've ever seen.
Super Reviewer
½ November 30, 2008
good depiction of life in a southern town. well acted in the release of family dynamics, although the motivations and psychology are never revealed through plot or character.
Super Reviewer
July 27, 2008
Impressive performances all around, especially Amy Adams in the hospital scene. Some funny and touching moments (Johnny struggling to tape the meerkat program for Ashley) but the root of this family's dysfunction didn't entirely reveal itself, and so the ending ran out of steam.
Super Reviewer
½ June 14, 2006
A fine little independent movie about a man introducing his new wife to his family back home. Said family turns out to be quite something, causing plenty of awkward, funny and thoughtful moments. The humor is a subtle one, living off the quirky characters and situations, being the center piece of this movie. It's carried by all around great performances, especially by the wonderful Embeth Davidtz and Amy Adams. In the end the movie takes a somewhat tragic turn, which makes it lose some of its charm, sadly. Still, it's a very special little film and worth checking out for its portrayal of a dysfunctional family and rural American life.
puffchunk
Super Reviewer
½ April 1, 2007
Really great movie about how when you get married, you marry the family too.
gor41
Super Reviewer
February 16, 2008
Thoughtful study of family life with all its complications. Breakout performance by Amy Adams is charming.
Super Reviewer
March 19, 2007
Amy Adams IS this movie.
Super Reviewer
½ January 25, 2008
JUNEBUG, a 2005 dramedy with excellent writing and directing, by Angus MacLachlan & Phil Morrison (respectively), that explores the complicated process of accpeting an in-law into your family. Nice photography work and the blend of funny and sad make this film worth watching. The parents (played by Celia Weston and Scott Wilson) are alright. Ben McKenzie is somewhat good, if you compare it to his dry acting on "The OC", Alessandro Nivola is barely on screen, but i LOVED his singing scene. Embeth Davidtz is great, and Amy Adams is TOP NOTCH at playing the naive, curious and LOUD Ashley, who is the heart of the movie and lights up the screen everytime. She should've won that Oscar!
Super Reviewer
½ January 21, 2008
It's weird to see two movies about knocked-up chicks called Juno and Junebug right in a row, right? It was still very good. Not as funny, though!
jjnxn
Super Reviewer
½ August 30, 2007
beyond annoying
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