Jason Reitman, the talented young director behind the critically lauded, and well deserved, Thank You For Smoking has crafted another Oscar worthy piece with Juno. Using a rather simple premise writer Diablo Cody (the pen name for the now famous stripper from Minneapolis turned writer/blogger, Brook Busey-Hunt) presents a diverse group of engaging characters. The entire movie, much like it’s characters, contains so many layers that it requires more than one viewing to truly appreciate them all. From obscure literary references by the main character, Juno MacGuff (played perfectly by Ellen Page), to visual running gags throughout the movie. This motion picture is much more than the sum of it’s parts.
Juno’s true appeal is in the fact that it all seems so incredibly real. The supporting roles, like Juno’s father, Mac (JK Simmons from Spider-Man) and step-mother, Bren (Allison Janney), are so well written and acted that they all seem like people you know, or at least want to.
The story is about a quirky young girl who seemingly, on a whim, sleeps with one of her best friends, Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera from SuperBad) and gets pregnant. Unable to go through with an abortion Juno decides to give the baby up for adoption. Following a suggestion from her other best friend, Leah (Olivia Thirlby), she finds an advertisement in the local copy of the Pennysaver for a couple hoping to adopt a child. Vanessa & Mark Loring (played by Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman, respectively) look like the perfect couple, so Juno immediately agrees to give them the baby. Very soon everyone begins to discover that people, and life in general, don’t always live up to their expectations.
The rest of the movie weaves in and out of the unpredictability and innocent duplicity of human nature with brilliant clarity and still, somehow, remains tender and provides quite a few laughs along the way. It’s difficult to describe how Reitman and each of the actors have taken Cody’s raw dialogue and presented it so well that you almost live the experience right along with them. Without spoiling it, it’s possible to point out that because the ending isn’t a typical “happily ever after,” so common in Hollywood, it turns out to be far more touching and satisfying. This movie is a rare insight into the bittersweet joys that make us all laugh out loud and cry, simultaneously. Those events that change us forever and that we will never forget.
Jason Reitman (director) / Diablo Cody (screenplay)
CAST: Ellen Page … Juno MacGuff
Michael Cera … Paulie Bleeker
Jennifer Garner … Vanessa Loring
Jason Bateman … Mark Loring
Allison Janney … Bren MacGuff
J.K. Simmons … Mac MacGuff
Olivia Thirlby … Leah