Juno **** (out of ****)

Director: Jason Reitman
Writer: Diablo Cody
Cast: Ellen Page, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner, Michael Cera, Olivia Thirlby, J.K. Simmons, Allison Janney
Rating: PG-13 (language, sexual content, mature thematic material)
Running Time: 91 min
Release Date: 12/14/07

Juno begins with a girl gulping down a large bottom of orange drink before she walks to the store and buys a home pregnancy test. She wanted to make sure that she was ready perform the test in the store's restroom and hence the large consumption of fluids. The result is positive just like that last two were. She’s pregnant.

Juno (Ellen Page) is a very quirky girl who has a very sarcastic and witty personality. Basically, she seems fairly smart but I don’t necessarily see that manifesting in academic achievement. Her main interest is eventually to be music and she was in a garage band. The father of her unborn child, Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera), was also in this group in addition to being in the high school’s track team. They both tend to be fundamentally reserved about expressing their feelings. One wonders if they know themselves that well.

It’s against this background of undercurrents that they fateful event occurred. Seen briefly in flashback, her sexual encounter with Paulie was far from being a case of an over persuasive boy and a vulnerable girl or mutual passion run amuck. Rather is seems that it was mostly curiosity on her part and combined with the boy’s rather passive acceptance of her initiative. This idea was supported by her parent’s reactions when Juno confronts them with the bad news. Mac, her father (J.K. Simmons), says about the boy, “I didn’t think he had it in him.” To this her step-mother Bren (Allison Janney) agrees, “You know, of course, it wasn't his idea.”

Juno considered getting an abortion and had arranged an appointment at the local clinic. However, on the way she was confronted with a teenage anti-abortion activist with a picket sign. In the brief exchange she is told that unborn baby’s have fingernails. This trivial detail transformed Juno’s view of what she was carrying from a simple unfortunate condition to a baby. In additon the attitude of the receptionist at the clinic, who is preoccupied with texting on her sidekick and offers her a flavored condom, causes Juno to back out of her abortion plan.

But, what should she do about the baby? Her best friend points out ads in the “Penny Saver” for couples seeking children. So she answers one of the ads and meets the Lorings, Vanessa (Jennifer Garner) and Mark (Jason Bateman), an affluent couple unable to conceive. The Loring’s have their lawyer present but Juno wants a simple deal. No money beyond medical expenses and no visitation rights. Juno agrees to let the Loring’s adopt the baby as soon as it’s born.

Juno does have one other interest and that is to know of what sort of couple will raise the child. This leads to her just dropping by to talk with Mark, who she thinks is a “cool guy” because that they have somewhat compatible interests in music and horror movies. Yet, these visits lead to a revelation of a flaw in the Lorings’ relationship that for while threatens to derail the whole arrangement. And in turn this development results in Juno and Paulie facing up to their feelings for each other.

Ellen Page does a masterful job in her portrayal of Juno. Her sense of comic timing and quirky humor is quit endearing. I expect she will be receiving some awards for her work in this movie. We can expect to see more of her soon. I also would like to mention the versatility that Jennifer Garner has displayed in recent films from The Kingdom to her current part in Juno. She shifts from roles as a tough FBI agent to a women desperately wanting motherhood with ease.

|Home| |Movie Reviews Index| |E-Mail|