As you can probably guess, I loved this movie. Not surprisingly though, I love the director, Jason Reitman, who I was lucky enough to see in 2006 at MIFF when he was touring with his first feature Thank You for Smoking.
As of yesterday, I’ve seen it twice.
So I’ll stop with the prelim ranting and dive straight in.
THE SET UP? Sixteen year-old student, Juno, gets pregnant after her first sexual experience with friend, (Paulie) Bleeker. After sharing the information with her family Juno decides what to do. The film witnesses Juno’s pregnancy and her decisions over her “spawn”.
Ellen Page is Juno. The only other film I have seen this fine young actress in is X-Men 3 but she is magnificent as the young girl who finds herself pregnant. She plays Juno so entirely you can just tell she’s really into the character. -Although Diablo Cody did write Juno to be excessively alternative-cool.
Michael Cera is Bleeker. I happen to absolutely love Cera, but that goes right back to his days as George Michael on Arrested Development (the smartest American sitcom I have ever seen). Cera seems to play the same slightly awkward character in all his screen outings so far – however in Juno it is clear to me, as a keen Michael Cera watcher, that he has extended himself considerably for this role. He and Page are adorable as Bleeker and Juno and act together sublimely.
The draw-card cast is filled out with:
Jennifer Garner – who is rather great in this. She makes the most of her small role and is really funny in this one scene regarding wall paint colours.
Jason Bateman – is good too. As the protagonist on the above mentioned US sitcom I seem to have an attraction for any film Bateman is in. However (SPOILER ALERT) I didn’t like him playing the bad guy (although that’s personal preference only).
Allison Janney – one word: brilliant.
J.K. Simmons – plays Juno’s dad to perfection. The moments that could be taken as sentimental are handled brilliantly by this funny man. This is the second time Simmons has acted for Reitman.
Olivia Thirlby – never heard of her. But she’s fantastic in Juno as the supportive best friend.
I have to give a mention to Rainn Wilson, who is used so sparingly in Juno but is just too good! – But he’s just basically being Dwight behind a convenience store counter.
WHY SHOULD YOU SEE IT? Its just a great movie. Well written, although a bit Gilmore Girls at times – in that the dialogue can seem too…perfect. But at other times its blissfully fresh and seemingly improvisational. Great directing by Reitman – who has a knack for making films I like, Thank You For Smoking was, yeah, awesome. Ellen Page brings out the big-little guns as one of the greatest film heroines – Juno. She totally earns her Oscar nom!
And one of the things that made the film just sterling was that its not until right at the end do you know the ending! With some films the ending becomes shiningly obvious before the title sequence has finished, and most movies advertise the ending on the movie poster or the trailer. Not Juno. Its way too clever for that. So I must reluctantly give points to Diablo Cody, the exotic dancer turned A-List screenwriter via a blog – why can’t it be that easy for the rest of us budding film makers!
Another thing that was great about Juno is that it seemed crafted to distract the audience from passing harsh judgment on Juno and Bleeker, nor does it glamorize teenage pregnancy. Its like: ‘Well, we’re in this situation, what’s the best outcome, how can we make that happen?’
WHO SHOULD YOU SEE IT WITH? People who enjoy quirky cinema.
(Rant) The first time I saw Juno was the day after it came out. The cinema was packed with a never ending swabble of young adolescents , all revved up for this great-new-comedy after seeing the ads Fox Searchlight’s been shoving down their throats during primetime tv. Mistake. The swabble became bored with the seemingly unfunniness of the movie they paid $11.50 for and began to talk through the entire second half of the film. Grr.
So, yeah, people who actually enjoy quirky cinema. But other than that I can’t see why you can’t take your parents to this one.
ANY BITS YOU SHOULD BE WORRIED ABOUT? Not really. “The sex” that caused Juno’s pregnancy is visually hinted at through creative cinematography, but not explicit. I’m not heaps prudish about sex scenes in films – especially if you’re watching them on dvd (fast forward hello!) but it was great to see a director being creative about the way they handle it. You get the message without all the awkwardness – for the audience and the actors (when shooting), especially as its regarding teenage sexuality.
I might regret it later but THIS FILM GETS 4.5 GOLD STARS