Homer's Travels: Movies: "Into The Wild" And "Juno"

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Movies: "Into The Wild" And "Juno"

On Christmas Eve we decided to get out of the house and go to a movie. Since we started using Blockbuster online we haven't been to very many movies. The convenience of watching a movie in the comfort of you own family room beats the theater most of the time but you don't always want to wait the four to six months for the DVD to come out and some movies really look better on the big screen.

{Major Spoilers Ahead for those who may want to go see either of these movies}

That's why on Christmas Eve we went to see "Into The Wild", a movie based on the non-fiction book of the same name. The movie follows the journey and eventual death of Christopher McCandless. McCandless, after graduating college, donated all his money to charity and left his old life, family, and friends all behind to seek out truth and to eschew all material needs. He hikes up and down the west coast, works on a wheat farm in South Dakota, rides the rails until he is found and severely beaten. Along his two year journey he meets good people along the way who care for him, help him, and are helped by him, but he never returns the caring really. The search for his elusive truth, and the happiness he believes goes with it, consumes him.

Someplace during those two years he decides that his destination is Alaska. He puts all his effort in reaching this destination and, leaving all the people who really care about him behind, he heads to the Alaskan wilderness.

He spends the months there alone, hunting and gathering for food and when he decides to return to civilization, he discovers his route home cut off by a roaring river swollen with the summer melt. Isolated, cold, alone, too late he discovers the truth about happiness - that happiness is only real when you can share it with someone - and dies of starvation in the old school bus he was using as a shelter.

I liked this movie because it made me think. Before I was married, when I was depressed, feeling blah, or just in a rut, I would fantasize about selling everything and living off the land in Alaska. My fantasy was very similar to McCandless'. It's a little scary. One bad decision and that could have been me. I liked the movie and I highly recommend it. GeekHiker has another view of the movie on his Blog, check it out.

"Juno" is a totally different movie. We went to see it on Christmas Day when it turned out to be too windy for our planned beach walk. Juno follows Juno MacGuff a 16 year old girl, wiser then her years, who finds herself pregnant. She decides to carry the baby to term and give it away to a deserving couple. She finds a couple in the pennysaver and the movie follows her through the birth of the child. Ellen Page, who plays Juno, is totally awesome in the role.

It was a very well written story. The sense of humor was spot on at times but I thought it ebbed and flowed too much. Some of the best lines are delivered by Rollo (Rainn Wilson from The Office) and his scene is way to short. More of him would have been welcome. I wish the humor and pace of the movie had been a little more consistent. I was also bothered a little bit by just how perfect the characters were. I have known each of these perfect people - the wise for her age girl, the supportive parents, the perfect friend - but I rarely have seen all these people in one place at the same time. Even with these minor faults, the movie is a very satisfying story and I was entertained - highly recommended.

One of the strange coincidences with these two movies is that the Wife and I have been to some of the locations filmed or mentioned in both movies. "Into The Wild" takes you to southern California around the Salton Sea. It was fun to see the parts when McCandless was at Slab City and Salvation Mountain because we visited those places earlier this year. In "Juno" Stillwater, MN and St. Cloud are mentioned. The Wife has been to St. Cloud and both of us have been to Stillwater. Made us both smile and shake our heads.


  1. I have yet to see Juno so can't read the entire post. I saw a preview for it and the point where she says "Shenanigans"? That sold me. :)

    I really liked Into the Wild too. I've had moments where I've wanted to toss it all in and just go but that is just a thought. I didn't have to disappear to figure out that I need people in my life; just a moment in Scotland.

  2. JaG: I think you will like Juno. The exchanges at the convenience store at the beginning of the movie are awesome.

    As for needing people, I used to forget sometimes but not so much since I met the Wife.

  3. Interesting that you felt the same thing that McCandless did. When I feel depressed, down, or in a rut, I never get the desire to sell everything and take off. I just get, well, down. Go figure.

  4. GH: While I was watching the movie it felt eerily like my escape fantasy. I saw myself like some mountain man living in a cave (yes, a cave) and living off the land. The fact I have never hunted, fished, or even camped in my life did not deter my wandering mind.