Lady Bird

by Justin Johnson

Its been way too long since we had a good teen angst movie.  Seems today the sloppy party teen movies are all the rave so when Lady Bird was announced, I was reluctantly hopeful.  After the first trailer I was downright optimistic.  Ever since Hannah, Saoirse Ronan has been one of my favorite young actors so I was also excited she took center stage.  Its funny to see Laurie Metcalf play her quintessential role (think Roseanne’s overbearing sister in the 90s sitcom or Sheldon’s mom in Big Bang Theory) as Lady Bird’s uptight mom.  The story has many familiar parts when it comes to the teen angst movie – a strong desire to leave the familiar hometown, boyfriend betrayals, struggles with virginity, wavering friendship allegiances, shame over family/home/etc.  However in the familiar there is something enjoyable to the dialog and situations we watch Lady Bird navigate.

“Is Lady Bird your given name? Yes, its given to me by me.” This quote sets the stage for the character you are about to enjoy for one and half hours.  The setting is early 2000s and joblessness combined with family stress are the back drop for Lady Bird’s final year of Catholic Highschool.  The situations she finds herself in are handled well and I enjoyed watching the movie from two perspectives, my own past experiences in HS looking to escape to greener pastures.  And the future of my own daughter and what she may face in her HS senior year.  I appreciate the care taken to capture some of the familiar teen issues.  I also enjoyed the irony in which some of what you would expect to be more hard hitting situations (like first time sex) were handled with little fan fare where other less poignant situations (like roles assigned in school play) were given more attention. 

This is not a deep philosophical journey, playing more to the shallow life that is Lady Bird, we are not asked to consider the deeper meaning of life but instead are allowed to sit back watch a simple yet enjoyable story unfold.  Probably the deepest question asked is when Lady Bird muses about a friends belief in God.  Her life exemplifying a bit of rebellion, we are surprised by her affirmation that God must exist but with little to back it up beyond the mystery of the universe.  The movie is paced well with humor and drama unfolding evenly.  By the end of the film I was a bit disappointed that a few select scenes scored this one an R-rating.  I certainly could see myself enjoying this one in a few years with my oldest and using it as a platform for some healthy dialog on HS situations she may face.

5 out of 7 – this is an enjoyable teen movie that explores a year in the life of Lady Bird.  The R rating is achieved through a few scenes of harsh humor and a scene where upon turning 18 lady bird buys a playgirl magazine and they show the images briefly.  Unfortunately, these few scenes drive us to adult audiences only.