#393. Phil Lord / Chris Miller

Two heads are better than one. Of course, when it comes to humor, there have been numerous duos who have been known for their comedy. Abbot and Costello is one example. Laurel and Hardy are another. Being able to partner up with another comedian can produce legendary results, especially if one of them is the “straight man.” Stand-up comedy can be brutal, so with another person, comedy can be a little easier. Directing a movie can also be a daunting task, but if two people partner together to make it happen, the results are similarly outstanding. Plenty of siblings have paired up to create films, with the Coen Brothers and the Wachowskis being two prime examples. The key to any partnership is being on the same wavelength. Concerning comedy and directing, Phil Lord and Chris Miller certainly have a great partnership. This week’s two films highlight some comedy gold by Phil Lord and Chris Miller.

                                                 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Year: 2009Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Rating: PG
Length: 90 minutes / 1.50 hours

When Phil Lord and Chris Miller met at Dartmouth College, they found they both had similar artistic tastes and passions. One of these passions was making animated films. While they created short animated films growing up, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009) was their breakout movie. It took them almost six years to see the movie come to fruition. During this time, they learned a lot about characters, story, and writing, partly because they were fired from the project, then re-hired to finish it. Executive feedback drove them to develop as writers and directors, which certainly helped their craft. At the very least, even the CGI used to create Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was used in such a way as to emphasize their love of traditional animation, hearkening back to their humble origins.

Somewhat based on the children’s book of the same name, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is set in the small town/island of Swallow Falls. The town is floundering due to its lackluster sardine industry, and the locals are sick of having to eat the excess amounts of the oily fish. Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) is an idealistic inventor whose creation of a device that can turn water into food has the potential to save the town. It’s not until after his initial test of the machine fails that he realizes the device is using the moisture of the clouds around the city to make it “rain” food. Everyone is delighted that there’s something else to eat other than sardines, thus making Flint an overnight success. Unfortunately, the device starts to go out of control and the food gets progressively bigger, threatening to destroy the town with a hurricane of food. It’s up to Flint to stop his machine and save the city.

The LEGO MovieThe LEGO Movie
Year: 2014
Rating: PG
Length: 100 minutes / 1.67 hours

After the success of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Lord and Miller managed to become the directors of 21 Jump Street (2012) and its sequel, 22 Jump Street (2014), straying somewhat from their animation roots, but sticking to the comedy they proved they could produce together. Their adherence to comedy has created some friction over the years, causing them to be removed from directing such films as Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) since it didn’t meet the tone Disney wanted to convey for the movie. Despite stepping back from the directing side of filmmaking (having only directed four films), they have been writers and producers for many films, including the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs sequel in 2013. Fortunately, the movies they have written and directed have been quite hilarious, including the phenomenal The LEGO Movie (2014).

Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt) is a generic construction worker in the city of Bricksburg. He goes about his normal routine, touting how everything about his life is awesome. One day, he finds a mysterious woman named Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) who seems to be searching for something. Going to confront her, he falls into a deep hole and discovers an odd device known as the “Piece of Resistance.” After passing out, he wakes up under interrogation from one of the subordinates of Lord Business (Will Ferrell) with the Piece of Resistance fastened to his back. Through a series of adventures, he’s rescued by Wyldstyle and meets many other “Master Builders” who are trying to stop Lord Business’ plan to use the Kragle to glue all the LEGO pieces together, permanently. It’s up to Emmet to band the resistance together, discover his own latent talent, and save the world.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 animated adventures by Phil Lord and Chris Miller

Bacon #: 2 (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (directed) / Danny Mann -> Balto / Kevin Bacon)

#392. Brain over Brawn

“Work smarter, not harder,” is the motto of many a business that wants to succeed by creating efficiencies in their processes. The trick that comes with this idiom is that taking the brute-force approach can sometimes appear to be the easier path to success. If there are multiple steps needed to set up a more efficient process, it can be seen as cumbersome—until it works, that is. We’ll often see character stereotypes in movies where the “successful” individual is physically stronger, but the underdog of the story is inevitably smarter. How can the smarter characters win over the stronger ones? While “the pen is mightier than the sword” might work for politics, using intelligence as a weapon is often the only way some characters can triumph over their bullies. This week’s two films highlight the intelligent characters who use their brains and come out ahead of those who only use their brawn.

MegamindMegamind
Year: 2010
Rating: PG
Length: 95 minutes / 1.58 hours

If Revenge of the Nerds (1984) has taught us anything, it’s that the downtrodden people in society who are often scorned for not being as pretty/handsome or derided for their physical weakness can use their superior intelligence to enact their revenge on the bullies in their lives. In the realm of superheroes, though, brains and brawn are the common archetype of the villain and superhero, respectively. While a villain’s schemes are rooted in intricate plans, they must account for their adversary’s super-human strength in some way. Whether it’s through creating super-strong robots or using the hero’s weakness against them, the genius supervillains intrinsically know they have the deck stacked against them from the start. Overcoming such odds can feel exhilarating, but there is a cost involved.

Megamind’s (Will Ferrell) latest plot to defeat Metro Man (Brad Pitt) seems like every other unsuccessful plan he’s dreamed up over the years. This time, however, it works. With Metro Man dead, Megamind takes over Metro City and rules with a black-leather fist of villainy. Unfortunately, without the daily sparring between the villain and hero, Megamind becomes bored with his newfound success. Using his technology and superior intelligence, he sets out to create a new hero with some of Metro Man’s DNA. Acting as a mentor to Titan (Jonah Hill), Megamind tries to mold the formerly scorned cameraman into a hero he can go toe-to-toe with. Unfortunately, because Titan’s past was filled with loneliness and weakness, his newfound powers backfire and create a violent and out-of-control menace for the city. It’s up to Megamind to now don the hero’s cloak and save the day.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Year: 2009Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Rating: PG
Length: 90 minutes / 1.50 hours

We all want to be popular, as it can validate who we are as a person. And yet, today’s society seems to still rely on the primal sections of our brains to determine who is popular and who isn’t. The characteristics like beauty and strength were used long ago to determine the adequacy of a mate, but this has continued into modern times and caused many intelligent people to be scorned. Their smarts and passion for the topics in life that they love will often give them the label of “nerd” amongst the more popular individuals of a society. What we often seem to forget is these “nerds” are regularly responsible for the inventions that make all of our lives easier. Do these smarter individuals turn to inventions to feel validated? To create a legacy that’s not predicated on physical appearance? To altruistically create a better society? Sometimes they’re the only people smart enough to deal with a disastrous problem.

Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader), is a passionate inventor who lives in the floundering city of Swallow Falls. While his father, Tim (James Caan) is employed by the failing local sardine economy, Flint sees the writing on the wall and wants to make his own path. Despite his failed inventions, Flint continues on and finally creates a device that can turn water into food. Needing more power for his machine, he accidentally rockets it into the sky, thus ruining the opening of Sardine Land, a last-ditch effort by the mayor of the town to attract tourists. As the townsfolk are berating Flint, it soon starts raining cheeseburgers, thus saving the city by attracting “food tourists.” Unfortunately, as the orders for food multiply, so does the size and intensity of the food storms. To stop the food hurricane, Flint must fly to the device and put a stop to it before the entire island is destroyed.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 superior smarties

#391. The Animated Anti-hero

The last decade has seen the rise of the superhero in cinema, helping to perpetuate the ideals of the “hero” archetype. These characters know the right thing to do, and they perform these honorable actions even if it comes at a great personal sacrifice. While this type of protagonist has been around for centuries, modern morality has muddled the waters when it comes to knowing what is “right” and what is “wrong.” Enter the anti-hero. These are the characters who would usually be considered the antagonists of a story, but find themselves doing the right thing anyway—even if it’s merely because the action aligns with their less-than-reputable goals. Interestingly enough, with the rise of flashy, cartoonish superheroes on the big screen, the realm of anti-heroes has also shown an uptick in an unlikely medium: animation. This week’s two films highlight some animated anti-heroes.

Despicable MeDespicable Me
Year: 2010
Rating: PG
Length: 95 minutes / 1.58 hours

Science is a tool. Depending on how it’s used, it can either provide a great benefit or great harm to humanity. Just like a hammer could be used to build a shelter or to smash an enemy’s fingers, science is beholden to its wielder’s will. If a scientist wants to cure diseases or infect the entire planet depends entirely on their motivations and end-game goals. While some actions are clearly in the realm of “mad science,” others are slightly more ambiguous. Could a scientist bring about world peace by becoming a supervillain powerful enough to unite the world against them? While the end result is for the greater good, it probably wasn’t what the anti-hero had in mind when they set out to accomplish their goals. Some acts of supervillainy are so incredible that only the realm of animation can adequately capture them.

Gru (Steve Carell) has a problem: he can’t seem to infiltrate his rival’s secret base. As a supervillain scientist, Gru is frustrated that Vector (Jason Segel) has the upper hand in so many different regards. Vector not only stole the Great Pyramids of Giza before Gru could, but he also has the money to buy and/or invent such weapons as the shrink ray Gru needs to steal to convince the Bank of Evil to lend him money. Just as all hope is lost, Gru watches as three girls easily bypass the security of Vector’s base to sell him cookies. Now that he has found the weakness in Vector’s armor, Gru proceeds to adopt the orphaned girls so he can complete his plan to steal the moon. Unfortunately, now that he is the adopted father of three girls, his family responsibilities start to detract from his villainy. He did the right thing by adopting the orphans but soon has to make a choice to keep pursuing evil or a family.

MegamindMegamind
Year: 2010
Rating: PG
Length: 95 minutes / 1.58 hours

In Wreck-It Ralph (2012), a collection of video game villains have a support group with the creed, “I’m bad, and that’s good. I will never be good, and that’s not bad. There’s no one I’d rather be than me.” This idea that villains are content with never being able to do the right thing is interesting because their actions may still create a net positive for the universe. If a villain succeeds in their villainy and manages to take over the world, do they then become the protector of said world? Would they then be forced to become the hero? The concepts of good and bad are two forces that need balance, so removing one of the sides creates a vacuum. Consequently, if a villain attempts to do something they know a hero would do, would the result still be the same? Would their subconscious sabotage their attempt at being a hero and thus bring about a consequence much worse than they had anticipated?

Long-time rivals Metro Man (Brad Pitt) and Megamind (Will Ferrell) are entangled in the deadly tango of the hero/villain dynamic. In their latest scuffle, Megamind finally defeats his alien cousin and takes control of Metro City. With the city now under his command, Megamind soon finds himself bored and lonely without any heroes to confront him. Reporter Roxanne Ritchi (Tina Fey) is also mourning the loss of Metro Man, who was her romantic interest. Megamind uses a hologram to interact with Roxanne and share his feelings about losing Metro Man. While the two of them slowly start to fall in love, Megamind realizes he must create a new hero to replace Metro Man. Using the unassuming Hal Stewart (Jonah Hill), Megamind ends up with more than he bargained for when Hal becomes “Titan” and puts the city at risk. Now Megamind must become the hero the city needs to save the day.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 peculiar protagonists

#390. Steve Carell

Anyone who was watching television in the mid-2000s was likely aware of NBC’s mockumentary sitcom, The Office. Even today, you’re likely to find this show on syndication somewhere on cable television. If you’ve seen an episode of the show, you’ll likely recognize Steve Carell as the boss of the eponymous office, Michael Scott. While he started out in television, Carell has worked his way up to motion pictures. Initially, Carell mostly stuck to his talent of comedy and performed in genre films of the same type. Over time, he has expanded his acting chops and shown he can handle serious roles as well. This progression from television to comedies to dramas is pretty standard for comedic actors, and Steve Carell was no different. This week’s two films highlight some of the dramas and comedies of Steve Carell.

Dan in Real LifeDan in Real Life
Year: 2007
Rating: PG-13
Length: 98 minutes / 1.63 hours

Sometimes the transition from comedy to drama can be, well . . . dramatic. Other times, there’s enough of a range of comedies to allow for a somewhat smoother transition. Case in point: the dark comedy. These can be edgier works like Judd Apatow’s The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005) or Knocked Up (2007). They can also be Oscar darlings like Little Miss Sunshine (2006), The Big Short (2015), or Vice (2018). Sometimes they’re straight up depressing like Dan in Real Life (2007) or Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012). In any case, these darker and edgier comedies eventually lead the way to more serious dramas like Foxcatcher (2014), which earned Steve Carell his first Best Actor Oscar nomination. Pretty soon, these dramas start to happen more regularly. In Carell’s case, films like Last Flag Flying (2017), Beautiful Boy (2018), and Welcome to Marwen (2018) have few comedic moments in them, if any at all.

As a widower trying to raise three girls, Dan Burns (Steve Carell), is having trouble figuring out his own life while he writes advice for others via his newspaper column. Nothing seems to break his depression. Even a visit to Rhode Island to meet up with his family for their annual gathering doesn’t help. As luck would have it, he runs across a woman in a bookstore who piques his interest. The two seem to hit it off, but Marie (Juliette Binoche) is hesitant to lead him any further since she has a boyfriend already. As it just so happens, her boyfriend is Dan’s brother Mitch (Dane Cook). With Marie participating in the family activities, Dan has more opportunities to fall in love with her, even if he knows she’s “off limits.” During the family talent show, he lets slip his true feelings, which starts a series of events in motion that will change everyone’s lives.

Despicable MeDespicable Me
Year: 2010
Rating: PG
Length: 95 minutes / 1.58 hours

While Steve Carell still does comedies, they’re certainly where he got his start. Interestingly enough, quite a few of his comedies have spawned sequels, thus giving him more opportunities to show off his comedic talent. Before The Office started, Carell was in films like Bruce Almighty (2003) and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004). These films led to Evan Almighty (2007), and Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013), respectively. Even though Carell has also acted in other comedies like Get Smart (2008) and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013), his longest series to date has been as a voice actor in the Despicable Me franchise. First appearing in 2010’s Despicable Me, Carell has been voicing the main character, Gru, in the sequels, Despicable Me 2 (2013) and Despicable Me 3 (2017), as well as the spin-off, Minions (2015).

After being foiled on a recent attempt to steal the Great Pyramids, Gru (Steve Carell) needs a loan from the Bank of Evil to execute his next nefarious scheme: stealing the moon. Of course, the bank needs to know that Gru can actually pull off this villainous heist and requires he obtain the necessary shrink ray before they loan him the money. This leads Gru to Vector (Jason Segel), a rival supervillain with better technology and resources. In the course of many failed attempts, Gru learns Vector’s weakness: cookies sold by three orphan girls. Rushing out to adopt said girls, Gru wants to use them to infiltrate Vector’s lab but soon finds the responsibilities of being an adopted parent are interfering with his villainy. This all comes to a head when his one opportunity to steal the moon occurs on the very same night as the girls’ dance recital. Which part of his life will he prioritize?

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 Steve Carell classics

Bacon #: 1 (Crazy, Stupid, Love \ Kevin Bacon)

#389. Peter Hedges

There are plenty of actors who have made the jump from being in front of the camera to being behind it. This is so much the norm that it is rare to find someone who works on a movie in a different capacity moving to the director’s chair. However, of these non-acting roles, writers have the best chance of becoming successful directors. Many directors already write the screenplays for their films, so it’s no wonder that writers could merely add on directorial duties to their involvement, thus ensuring their words are accurately portrayed on the screen. Peter Hedges is just such a writer. He has only directed a few movies, but he found his start by turning his breakout novel, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, into the 1993 film version of the same name. This week’s two films highlight some gems in Peter Hedges’ limited directorial career.

The Odd Life of Timothy GreenThe Odd Life of Timothy Green
Year: 2012
Rating: PG
Length: 105 minutes / 1.75 hours

Even though Peter Hedges has co-written most of his recent films, the themes of family and the interactions between parents and children remains strong. In What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), Hedges wrote about how individuals deal with parents and siblings who might have challenging conditions like obesity or autism. His next script, for the film A Map of the World (1999), and based on the book by Jane Hamilton, deals with how parents cope with the death of a child. Three years later, Hedges would be nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for his work on About a Boy (2002), which deals with parenthood—both as single parents and as a married couple. This theme is expounded upon in The Odd Life of Timothy Green (2012), which he co-wrote the screenplay for as well as directed.

The Greens, Jim (Joel Edgerton) and Cindy (Jennifer Garner) are surprised to find a 10-year-old boy named Timothy (CJ Adams) in their house. They are even more amazed when he says he’s their son. After being told they cannot have children, the Greens had given up on the notion of having kids of their own. And yet, here Timothy is. Deciding to play along, both of Timothy’s “parents” take him to family activities, slowly realizing he’s the “ideal” child they wanted all along. Despite being the perfect kid, Timothy has a unique attribute: leaves growing from his legs. These leaves start to fall off as he is able to fulfill all the wants and desires of his parents. Each of these leaves is eventually given to a person Timothy affected positively until there are no leaves left and he disappears as mysteriously as he had first appeared. Shortly afterward, the Greens are able to adopt a child they can “officially” call their own.

Dan in Real LifeDan in Real Life
Year: 2007
Rating: PG-13
Length: 98 minutes / 1.63 hours

A year after About a Boy released, Hedges made his directorial debut with Pieces of April (2002). Following the separate journeys of a daughter and her family as she prepares to host Thanksgiving dinner, the film highlights the challenges of a family filled with estrangement and relatives on the verge of death. In the end, Hedges excels at bringing the relationships of his characters into the spotlight. The next film he directed, Dan in Real Life (2007), goes back to the motif of gathering family members together as certain members experience a transition between life stages of loss and love. It’s no wonder his most recent film, Ben is Back (2018), centers around a son who comes home to his family on Christmas Eve in need of serious help. Perhaps these elements of Hedges’ films are what make them so relatable: we’ve all been in uncomfortable family situations, but family is family.

Dan (Steve Carell) has a lot to deal with in his life. Not only does he have a job as an advice columnist in a New Jersey newspaper, but he is the recently single father of three girls after the death of his wife. To help overcome some of the grief of his loss, Dan takes his daughters up to Rhode Island for an annual family gathering at his parents’ house. Upon meeting his family again, Dan finds himself irked by his brother Mitch (Dane Cook), who has always enjoyed the single life that Dan now finds thrust upon him again. Fortunately, a ray of hope arrives in the form of Marie (Juliette Binoche), a woman Dan meets in a nearby bookstore. Unfortunately, Marie is Mitch’s girlfriend, a fact he learns when she shows up at the family gathering. Despite trying to overcome this blow to his self-esteem, Dan eventually gathers up the courage to tell Marie how he feels about her, even if it might hurt his brother.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 families filled with feelings by Peter Hedges

Bacon #: 2 (Ben is Back (directed) / Julia Roberts -> Flatliners / Kevin Bacon)

#388. Adoption

The reasons for giving a child up for adoption are nearly as varied as wanting to adopt a child. While it shouldn’t necessarily be viewed as an economic “supply and demand” situation, there are often times where children could be better off in an adoption situation than staying with birth parents. These situations can bring about drama later in the child’s life when they learn they aren’t the biological progeny of their adoptive parents. Of course, most parents have the best of intentions for their adoptive children, but sometimes the battle between nature and nurture can prove to be a challenge for even the best-prepared parents. Needless to say, adoption is an option for those who find themselves with unexpected pregnancies and those who unexplainably cannot become pregnant. This week’s two films highlight adoption as part of their plot.

JunoJuno
Year: 2007
Rating: R
Length: 96 minutes / 1.6 hours

Teenagers rarely have the resources or maturity to raise a child, which is mostly why the idea of pregnant teenagers is generally frowned upon. There are generally three options for these unexpected children: abort them, keep them, or give them up for adoption. That’s not to say teenage pregnancies are the main source for adoptions, as unsafe family conditions or resource constraints could force a mother to give up their child for adoption. Whatever the case, the determination of what to do with these children is often influenced heavily by the mother’s family. If there’s a strong support network for the mother, she might choose to keep the child, despite the challenges. If the family is more judgmental, then the mother might opt for an abortion to keep things simple. At the end of the day, even if a child is being adopted by a different family, a mother still has to give birth to the child.

When Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) learns she is pregnant, she immediately goes out to get an abortion. Her life as a teenager will have to change drastically if she decides to keep this child, but once she’s in the abortion clinic, she loses her nerve and leaves. At this point, her only option is to put the child up for adoption. Her parents are surprised but supportive of her decision. Opting for a closed adoption, Juno meets with Mark Loring (Jason Bateman) and Vanessa Loring (Jennifer Garner), who have agreed to adopt the child. Juno and Mark hit it off, but after Mark decides to leave Vanessa, Juno begins to re-think the adoption. At the same time, she also realizes she loves the boy who got her pregnant and wonders if they could make a relationship/baby work. After leaving a note on the Loring’s door, Juno goes into labor shortly after and gives birth to a boy.

The Odd Life of Timothy GreenThe Odd Life of Timothy Green
Year: 2012
Rating: PG
Length: 105 minutes / 1.75 hours

Reproduction is a messy and complicated process. While it almost seems simple for some couples to get pregnant, without even trying, others spend years trying to achieve the same result. So many factors can lead to a couple being unable to conceive. Even if the medical community is becoming better equipped to handle these limitations or restrictions, these procedures can be extremely costly. Unfortunately, due to the bureaucracy involved with the adoption process, it’s not much less expensive or emotionally-draining than trying to conceive via alternative methods. Even though becoming foster parents can be an easier and less-expensive alternative, there are sometimes challenges involved with these children as well since some of the “nature” has already been set in stone. In any case, adoptive parents should expect just as many challenges with a new child as they would if they had birthed the child themselves.

Jim Green (Joel Edgerton) and Cindy Green (Jennifer Garner) are heartbroken when they learn they are medically unable to conceive a child. To keep Cindy from spiraling into depression, Jim encourages her to outline the ideal child she would want and bury the notes in the backyard. In a magical twist, shortly after a surprise thunderstorm, Timothy (CJ Adams), a 10-year-old boy, arrives at their house and claims to be their son. While this is strange by any means, Timothy also has leaves growing on his legs that cannot be removed. Despite challenges at school and in the town, Timothy has been living up to his parents’ hopes and dreams, but at the cost of the leaves on his legs. These leaves are a countdown to his eventual disappearance. Even though his time with them was short, the Greens have proven they are fit parents and can care for an adoptive child.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 adoptive aspirations

#387. Unexpected Pregnancy

Pregnancy can often bring immense joy to a family, as soon-to-be parents prepare to bring their progeny into the world. On the flip side, an unexpected pregnancy can bring intense anxiety and emotions into potentially strained relationships. Of course, cynics might argue that the unforeseen pregnancies in our society have the potential to overwhelm us, especially if those who want to become pregnant cannot. At least, that’s the idea movies like Idiocracy (2006) have promoted. In any case, the surprise of an unexpected pregnancy can be solved in many ways. Many unwanted pregnancies are aborted, but there are also options for adoption, as well as keeping the baby. Whatever ends up happening, these pregnancies are usually monumental moments in people’s lives and will change them from then on out. This week’s two films highlight some unexpected pregnancies.

Children of MenChildren of Men
Year: 2006
Rating: R
Length: 109 minutes / 1.82 hours

With the birth rates in many developed countries dropping lower every year, pregnancies are becoming more and more unexpected. When pregnancies are no longer the norm, fear sets in and society crumbles. The entirety of civilization hinges on whether or not a population can replenish itself over time. Even certain “gaps” in generations where there aren’t as many births can affect the economy as they age through their developmental, career, and retirement life stages. If we take these ideas to the extreme and imagine a world where it’s been 18 years since the last birth, the introduction of an unexpected pregnancy could be a world-changing event. While we are far from such a scenario, this is precisely the plot presented in the dystopian film, Children of Men (2006).

Due to several factors, humanity hasn’t had a new birth in almost two decades. Added to this is the fact that many—if not most—children died from disease just before the shortage of births. These problems have put the whole world on edge, and for a good reason. Many individuals, like Theo Faron (Clive Owen), have become cynical, merely waiting for their inevitable deaths and the end of civilization. In exchange for a lot of money, Theo agrees to escort a refugee to safety since the United Kingdom is violently strict when it comes to immigrants. The refugee, Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) reveals to Theo that she is pregnant with the world’s first baby in 18 years. Such a fantastic event is unexpected by all involved, but it leads to a battle to gain control of the child for political purposes. Can Kee escape to safety with her baby?

JunoJuno
Year: 2007
Rating: R
Length: 96 minutes / 1.6 hours

While an unexpected pregnancy can be a plot twist in dramas like Gone Girl (2014), it seems to be a common trope of the comedy genre. When characters have to scramble to figure out how they’re going to handle a baby, comedy ensues. Movies like Knocked Up (2007) and Waitress (2007) focus on the relationships that give birth to these unexpected pregnancies, and what happens to the relationships after this defining event. One night stands and loveless marriages are quite different situations than the oft-demeaned teenage pregnancy. Part of the reason for this is due to the emotional maturity of the parties involved. Teenagers usually don’t have any idea what they want to do with their lives, so being tied down to a newborn and being required to raise it for the next 18 years is a scary and unsettling proposition, especially when these teenagers aren’t even 18 themselves.

The titular Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) is surprised to learn she is pregnant. As a 16-year-old, she should be learning how to drive, but now must make a difficult decision that could affect her entire life. Her initial reaction is to get an abortion, but she changes her mind and opts for adoption instead. With her parents’ support, Juno meets with a couple who want to adopt her baby and immediately bonds with them. Meanwhile, Juno finds herself conflicted in regards to the child’s father, Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera). She knows he adores her, but the stigma of being a pregnant teenager is one of the forces that causes her to push him away. While Juno and Paulie’s relationship breaks down, the married couple suddenly gets a divorce as well, forcing Juno to make a tough decision for her baby. Will she keep the child and raise it herself, or give it to one of the adoptive parents?

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 unprepared parents