‘Juno’: Great cast, good script

Thu, 12/20/2007 - 5:54pm
By: Emily Baldwin

I saw this film at a recent limited-release screening, and my expectations were high. The previews were hilarious and the film features “Superbad” star Michael Cera and a scathingly sarcastic Ellen Page as the title character.

The film opens with Juno recounting her first sexual encounter with her classmate and best friend Paulie Bleeker (Cera). After finding out that she’s in the family way at the tender age of 16, Juno is faced with a big decision. While her first inclination is to terminate the pregnancy, she realizes she can’t go through with it and instead decides to give the baby up for adoption. Before telling her father and step-mother of her pregnancy, Juno scans the Pennysaver for adoption ads where she finds Vanessa and Mark Loring (played by Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman), who look like the perfect couple for her child.

As the film progresses, we see Juno get to know the potential adoptive parents, deal with the ever-widening chasm between her and baby-daddy Bleeker and come face to face with what it really means to give up the child she is carrying.

While “Juno” isn’t going to rock anyone’s world, it’s a welcome relief from most of the tripe showing up in theaters these days. One of the great things about “Juno” is that it knows where it falls in the film world, and it makes the best of it. This quirky film, full of zingy dialogue and witty banter, scores writer Diablo Cody a thumbs up with her first script.

Ellen Page makes this film what it is in the role of the deadpan heroine. Her ability to take Cody’s script and fill it with a kind of sarcastic charm is laugh out loud funny and one of the best things about this movie.

One thing I was disappointed by was the screen time, or lack thereof, for Cera. Quickly becoming the king of geeky awkwardness, Cera is awesome as the virulent wannabe boyfriend whose heart is broken after an impregnated Juno dismisses him. I had really hoped this film would have focused a little more on Juno and Paulie’s relationship, and it does so only in the last 40 minutes of the film or so.

The supporting cast, including Garner, Bateman, Allison Janney and J.K. Simmons, most definitely adds to the humor or the film. Something Cody does well in this film is to take the stereotypes found in most films (the uptight suburban wife, the clueless parents, the wild best friend) and turn them on their heads. While these stereotypes are most definitely a part of “Juno,” it is these characters’ unexpected reactions that make this particularly interesting.

Also a bonus for the film is the short but hilarious appearance by Rainn Wilson as a convenience store clerk full of hilarious one-liners.

I’m interested to go back and watch “Juno” again as I missed a portion of the dialogue from the raucous laughter filling the theater.

“Juno” may be a bit hard to find in theaters, but it’s worth the trip to Atlanta if it doesn’t come our way.


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