Juno is a captivating and quirky film, that is driven by an atmospheric indie-rock soundtrack and a satirically sharp and hilariously funny script written by first time screenwriter Diablo Cody.
Ellen Page stars as Juno McGuff, a charming, witty, and highly pretentious 16 year old teenager who unexpectedly falls pregnant after losing her virginity to her best friend Bleeker (Michael Cena). After contemplating an abortion, Juno instead decides to give her child up for adoption to upper middle class couple Michael and Vanessa (Jason Bateman & Jennifer Garner).
The film features a number of engrossing and highly likeable characters who are played extremely well by its cast. Little spitfire Ellen Page delivers a sensational performance displaying key comedic timing and a deft emotional touch. Alison Janney and J.K. Simmons are also very good as Juno’s parents.
Cody’s take on teen pregnancy is indeed fantastical in tone (as it should be considering this is a comedy), yet it is also unabashed on the subjects of abortion (they actually say the word!), teen sexuality and unwanted pregnancy, whilst not succumbing to the crude depths of Knocked Up.
Marriage and the decreasing role of the nuclear family in an increasingly secular world are also looked upon through the characters of Scott and Vanessa, who are played very well by Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner, the latter in particular delivering a touching performance as a woman who was “born to be a mother” yet unable to conceive.
Director Jason Reitman – who came to prominence in 2005 with his sympathetic tale of a slick cigarette spokesman in Thank You for Smoking – carefully weaves the films eccentricities along with its progressive tone to create an amusing and informative – if not flawed – comedy.
While not coming off as preachy, it does have a feel of the pompous to it which can irritate at times. And due to its desire to be too cool for school, it unforgivably passes over a number of pressing questions (How could such an intelligent girl like Juno not have safe sex?), and a multitude of conflicting issues (Could a woman be so detached to give away life that had been living inside her skin for 9 months?), which could have added more depth and realism to the film.
Yet for all of its bumps and missteps, Juno is a wonderfully poignant and clever comedy which deserves its place in the top tier of the best films this year.