Wisecracking teen gets pregnant in 'Juno' was the headline in the San Francisco Chronicle, so I think you can see my hesitation in seeing a film that seems to be about a character so well-traveled (Sara Gilbert's Darlene on "Roseanne," Thora Birch's Jane in "American Beauty," and Christina Ricci's pregnant Dede in "The Opposite of Sex," although the list goes on and on) about subject (pregnancy) that will inevitably lead to yet another scene where A.) the woman screams: "GIVE ME THE DRUGS!"; or B.) the "natural child birth proponent" screams: "GIVE ME THE EPIDURAL"; or C.) The bitchy wife/girlfriend screams: "YOU DID THIS TO ME!". (No, no and no. When are filmmakers going to retire this cliche?)
But the buzz was overwhelming positive, so Michael and I shelled out our 24 bucks and decided to give it a shot. Things started out poorly with the first half hour uneven and pretty much living up to all of the stereotypical things I'd feared most: Too-cool-for-school teen is pregnant yet completely nonchalant (even blase) about it. (Has this ever happened in the history of the world?) And the adorable Ellen Page -- while not exactly Andrea Zuckerman on "Beverly Hills 90210" -- is a bit hard to believe as a 16-year-old, despite only being 20 in real life. But then almost like clockwork the film shifted gears with the development of the characters Mark and Vanessa Loring (played delightfully by Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner), the couple Juno selects to adopt her baby. As the pregnancy unfolds, we get to know more about Juno's dad, her stepmom (a rather hilarious Allison Janney) and Juno's baby daddy, Michael Cera of "Superbad" fame. Suddenly the writing is sharp and hilarious. (And realistic.) It's a sentimental journey, but it really works. My rating: B+
After work on Saturday night it was off to B.B. King for the annual Ronnie Spector Christmas Party. It was an unforgettable night, filled with great music and holiday spirit. She came out to a rousing version of "Sleigh Ride," her standard opener, and the crowd went wild. But at 64 and now a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Ronnie -- while still looking good -- seemed considerably slower than she did just last year and by the end of the second song she was ready for a rest and saying how hot she was onstage. The crowd was more than willing to give this living legend a break and she gave it all she had with solid performances of "Why Don't They Let Us Fall in Love," "I Wish I Never Saw the Sunshine," "Do I Love You?," "(The Best Part of) Breakin' Up," "Baby I Love You," and "Say Goodbye To Hollywood," on which she was originally backed by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Later on after mentioning how she'd read that Amy Winehouse had "wanted to be her" growing up, she did a nice cover of the troubled singer's "Back to Black." When she sang the Ronettes' cover of the ominously titled Jackie DeShannon song "He Did It," she quipped: "I think you know who I'm talking about." (There is no love lost between Ronnie and Phil Spector and that was the only thing she said about her ex-husband all night.)
Things were going well until she blanked out on the words to "You Baby" and was never able to right herself, opting to just sing the chorus over and over (a bit of a disappointment for Michael and me, who are both wild about that song). A perfect "Be My Baby" and all was quickly forgiven. "This is the best song she ever did!!" one guy (so bravely) screamed to his friend. "It's way better than that "(Best Part of) Breakin' Up" crap you like!" A nearby queen glared over at him and said, "Be My Baby" is the best song anyone's ever done." (Snap!) Then she came out in her Santa suit for the encore, which included her adorable "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," and John Lennon's "So This Is Christmas (War Is Over)."
On the whole the evening was a little bittersweet. I could have sworn she performed 30-40 minutes longer last year. I remember even being surprised -- dare I say shocked? -- by how many songs she did ("You Came, You Saw, You Conquered," "Paradise," "I Wonder") and was completely blown away by the whole thing. I think she's had a rough year (her husband was near death when last I heard, possibly awaiting an organ transplant) and like all of us, she's not getting any younger. The flip side of it all though was Michael and I ended up standing (near the bar) along with our friend Benny, and unlike the crammed "dinner" tables from last year where nobody so much as cracked a smile let alone danced (nothing says rock 'n' roll like a steak dinner with mashed potatoes!) everyone in our area was in a festive, dancing and sing-along mood, which made the show even more fun than last year. (She even did the "mosh pit" encore request of "So Young"!) So thanks for another great Christmas concert, Ronnie. And If you're reading, would you please do "Tonight You're Mine, Baby" next year? Talk about a gift ...
From there we walked over to Stich on 37th Street for my office's unofficial holiday part, where I ran into a friendly reindeer and a be-wigged party girl.