Juno seemed a strikingly sincere film to me. I went to see this awash the whole awards seasons fandango with good grace; I’d heard it was this years off beat comedy, this years Little Miss Sunshine and so on and so on. While it could perhaps detriment the individualism of each film to lump them together in one bundle, Juno is certainly its own film, as the main character is her own person.
Juno, played by a bloody brilliant Ellen Page is a 16-something-girl with a maturity level and enough obscure references to endear any audience. We learn she and her male friend Paulie (played by Michael Cera in another brilliant George Michael Bluth variation) have had sex and subsequently, she has become pregnant. The reasons for this sexual encounter between close friends is never explored, nor is it that important. Nonetheless, we can summise that hormones were raging.
A number of scenario’s play out next, such as telling her parents she is pregnant. While it could easily be played for laughs, or even for melodrama, the screenplay shines at moments like this. Rather than berate their daughter, they take it in their stride, noting that at least she hasn’t got into hard drugs or been arrested. Other circumstances involve Juno tellng a shocked Paulie in good grace, a mishap adventure to the abortion clinic and Juno telling her best friend, who unphasedly fancies her teacher. Juno is funnier than it gives itself credit for.
As Juno’s journey begins to evole, she decides to “do the right thing” and keep the baby, lookng for couples up for adoption. Thus we meet a couple supposedly in the midst of love, yet unable to have children. Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman (Uncle Mike!) play the couple deftly, Garner as a slightly cool figure who the audience eventually warms up to and Bateman as a trapped ex-musician who seems a little left behind in life. Rightly said, Page spouts out dialogue that will light up smiles in the audience, yet her off-beat ice-breaker meets with confused reactions from the “happy” couple.
The impending case of cold feet for all parties rises and falls as tensions are created and moods arise, as they await the months to dwindle. The film keeps a steady pace all the way through, I can thankfully say I enjoyed every minute of it, and it is not what you could call “nice.” By the end of the film, although a certain off-beat sentimentality seems to have been settled for, it works, complete with “Indier-than-thou” soundtrack in tow.
Considering it follows on from Sideways and Little Miss Sunshine, Juno skirts the line between being “nice,” which implies alot and means almost nothing, and being “quirky,” another new-age term that means bollocks, all successfully. While I myself hope Michael Cera can eventually offer more than his George Michael routine (albiet still loved by me), he does his job and I hope Fox use him more sparingly, or we’ll have overload of awkwardness on our hands. Jason Bateman’s touch is subtle yet likeable as a whole, but nothing can permeate the unsettling implicitness of his and Juno’s relationship as the film goes on; all in all I hope he does well, as Ellen Page’s career seems set for good things, as does Diablo Cody’s if she writes another cracker of a script like this.