Starring Ellen Page, Machael Cera, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner, Allison Janney, JK Simmons, Olivia Thirlby
Written By: Diablo Cody
Directed By: Jason Reitman
Ellen Page might be my new favourite actress. After impressing in indie films and her small role in X-Men 3, she is definitely ready to hit it big, and this might just be the movie to do it.
In Juno, Jason Reitman’s follow-up to the amusing if shallow Thank You For Smoking, Page plays the titular character, a bright but unmotivated slacker who finds out she is pregnant thanks to an impromptu escapade with her close friend, the perfectly-cast Michael Cera. Deciding that abortion isn’t right for her, she finds a yuppie couple in the classifieds and signs her unborn baby over to her. The couple, an overbearing wannabe mom played by Jennifer Garner, and a former rockstar turned working man played by Jason Bateman, begin to factor into Juno’s life more than their legal agreement asks. Meanwhile, her loving father (JK Simmons) and stepmother (Allison Janney) do their best to keep cool and help her through the process.
What makes Juno work is its smart and witty dialogue, written by first-time screenwriter Diablo Cody, who I sincerely hope has a bright future in films. Additionally, the acting is top-notch; the film maintains a very light and bouncy tone that is aided by the subtle acoustic numbers of former Moldy Peaches singer Kimya Dawson. While the film doesn’t veer too far from familiar territory – it is simultaneously a teen film and a family comedy – it resists as many cliches as it can, deciding to resist taking up the ‘issue’ of teen pregnancy, and rather just using it as the plot’s central focus.
In many ways, to me it’s a lot like Knocked Up with teenagers, and I mean that in the best way possible. While not nearly as vulgar as Judd Apatow’s summer hit, it carries that same sense of honesty and realness to the screen; Juno is never too serious and portrays exactly the type of apathetic teen that might find herself in this situation, and Cera plays the perfect awkward sperm donor. The film has all the right ingredients to make a big splash in wider release; it’s accessible, relatively tame, and more than anything, absolutely hilarious. Reitman, Cody, and the entire cast have come together in what might be the big sleeper hit of the fall.
Bottom Line: A fun and hilarious exploration of teen pregnancy with one of the best written Hollywood scripts in memory.
Running Time: 90 minutes