To say that Juno was delightful is to sell it short. It’s more than delightful – it’s thought-provoking, shocking, exciting, quirky, amusing, empowering, and so much truer to life than anyone expects it to be. This movie could easily be thrown aside, called “the movie about the 16 year old who gets pregnant too young”, or “that movie where Michael Cera impregnates a girl”, but it’s so much more than that.
At its core, yes, the movie is about a 16-year-old girl, Juno MacGuff, who, due to boredom, or so she thinks, has sex with her very best friend Paulie Bleeker, and winds up pregnant. But this movie isn’t just about the hijinks that ensue when she realizes, quite maturely, that she needs to give the baby up for adoption (after a horrific experience when she goes to get an abortion) to the too-perfect-on-the-surface-to-be-true Vanessa and Mark, a duo she finds in the Penny Saver.
In the broader scheme of things, this movie is about friendship, family, and love, and what they mean in the overall big picture. What relationships become when something as unexpected as a baby is thrown into the mix. Juno’s relationships with everyone are tested – her dad proves to be a wonderful father, and her step mom? A pretty damn good mother. Her best friend Leah is as supportive as you can get. Without giving too much away – Juno’s relationship with Mark is unexpected, her bond with Vanessa is tighter than she ever thought it would be, and her relationship with Paulie is the stuff of which legends are made.
These roles were made for this cast – Ellen Page owns this role. She can play fragile, she can play wise beyond her years, she can play scared, and she just mesmerizes. Michael Cera is perfectly cast as Paulie, who isn’t sure how to handle the break up of his best friendship and everything that goes with it. Olivia Thirlby needs to be snapped up for a million more features, and quick, because she is spot on as the teacher-obsessed cheerleader best friend who always has just the right, and often times wrong, things to say to Juno to make it all better. Allison Janney, JK Simmons – so supportive, accepting the blame for this shocking pregnancy, and supporting their girl. Jennifer Garner should play more characters like this. Her Vanessa was so sad, so depressing, no matter how put together she might seem. What blew me away in this movie, though, is Jason Bateman. He played his Mark with such vulnerability, such openness, and with such immaturity at times that I found myself watching the birth of a new aspect of his career.
I’d be remiss to forget mentioning the fabulous and hilarious words that screenwriter Diablo Cody put on the page, the quirkiness of Jason Reitman’s fabulous directing, and the music that The Moldy Peaches’ Kimya Dawson breathed such wonderful life into. If any of these three things had been missing, the movie wouldn’t have been the same.
I leave you with this – Michael Cera and Ellen Page are featured singing at the end of the movie. And it made me smile for hours afterwards.
Go see this movie – if you hate laughing and hate love and hate fabulous actors or writers or directors or musicians, you’ll hate it. But if you love quality, this is the film for you.