Brilliant. Magnificent. Superb. Wonderful. Unique. It is impossible to choose just one of these adjectives to describe the quirky and savvy comedy Juno.
Jason Reitman, director of Thank You for Smoking, has added another gem to his resume with the help of critically-acclaimed, rising star Ellen Page and first-time screenwriter, Diablo Cody.
The story follows Juno (Page), a sassy high school junior, who discovers her first explorations of sex with her tic-tac addicted friend, Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera), has resulted in a bun in the oven. After exploring her options, she decides to have the baby and place it with another family through a private adoption. Although shocked, her parents (J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney) are supportive – “Kids get bored and have intercourse” – even though they feel they could have better dealt with expulsion or a drug addiction. Juno selects Vanessa (Jennifer Garner) and Mark (Jason Bateman), a well-to-do, childless couple, because where she is “ill-equipped” they are not. Unfortunately, nothing is perfect and things do not always go as planned.
Cody’s script is incredibly intelligent and funny. Borrowing from real-life relationships, she gives audiences a peek into the life of a smart, eccentric teen flirting with adulthood and trying to find her place in the world, all the while masking her fear with sarcastic remarks.
The dialogue is exceptionally witty, but in a way that is both humorous and believable; as opposed to the pretentious text emitted by Dawson’s Creek’s overdramatic adolescents. All the same, Cody acknowledges a good script is nothing without a skilful director and talented cast.
Reitman concedes upon his first reading of the script, he could not find a single flaw. During filming, he kept Cody on the set to make on-the-spot changes and insert new scenes as needed. But these were not frequent occurrences.
Ellen Page delivers yet another convincing and engaging performance, infusing her character with heart and forcing audiences to love her even when she does not deserve it. The 20-year-old Canuck has a commanding screen presence and enormous talent. Even though she is still unknown in mainstream circles, that is sure to change. The quality of Page’s performance is only enhanced by the shining performances of each member of the supporting cast, who bring their multi-dimensional characters to life on the screen.
The soundtrack, much like the film’s characters, is unique. The theme song, which can still be heard even after the credits have rolled, is “Anyone Else but You” by the Moldy Peaches. The musical choices were made through a collaborative effort by Reitman, Cody and Page and fit the film’s style perfectly.
Juno is a must-see film that will satisfy most, if not all, tastes. The Oscar buzz is already circulating and it is well deserved.