Within the first ten minutes, you'll know whether or not Juno is a movie for you. Once Ellen Page, as the titular character, begins spouting out bizarre bon mots such as "Honest to Blog", and "Silencio, old man", you can make a decision as to if Juno is right up your alley or far too precocious for it's own good. It's a fine line that worked just fine for me, though, and it provided yet another winner in a fine year for comedy.
The story, however, is fairly familiar. Witty teen girl has unprotected sex with best friend (Michael Cera, rockin' his sweatbands) and gets knocked up. (Wasn't there another movie this year similar in plot?). Juno must then go through the tough choices that lay before such a girl in this situation. She has access to an abortion, but opts to have the baby and give it up for adoption, to a lovely young yuppie couple she finds in the Pennysaver (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner, fresh off The Kingdom).
The script was written by Diablo Cody, a woman who loves the press about herself, mainly because it's pretty eclectic. Her odd style, and love of strange linguistics would be too much to bear if there wasn't some damn fine emotional honesty undercutting the whole thing. The scenes between Juno and her father (J.K. Simmons) provide a lot of them, as does pretty much any scene involving the heartbreaking Cera. Don't get me wrong, the dialogue is wonderfully funny, and fitting for such an outcast as Juno, but they would just sit there and slowly grate nerves if the movie didn't have the heart, and a genuine heart at that, beating proudly beneath.
Director Jason Reitman, who previously helmed the wickedly acerbic Thank You For Smoking, has shown he is not a one hit wonder. He juggles the balls with a deft touch that doesn't toe the line I previously mentioned regarding the script. From the candy colored opening credits to the fantastic songs (provided by Kimya Dawson, who has a lovely voice even if her lyrics are rather odd),
But the star of the show is Ellen Page herself. Having previously stunned my eyes in Hard Candy, and not offending my sensibilities by appearing in X-Men 3 (probably the only actor to have done such a thing), as Juno, she just blew me away. Any and all awards and accolades are well earned, as Page plays the character so well, and so true to life, that you almost forget she's playing a character. All I know is, if I were in high school, Juno is the girl I would go for. Pregnant or not.
Juno is well worth your time and money, as it's quite funny and winning, if not flawless. It's nice to see a comedy this year with genuine heart and laughs that's not brought to you by Apatow. As wonderful as Knocked Up is, Juno proves to be a little bit better, and a little more honest. And that's all I ever want out of a movie.