Monday, January 7, 2008

"Juno": A Movie Review

“Juno”, the movie about a pregnant, plucky 16-year-old, finally reached the multiplex of my Podunk town, riding on a wave of “The NEXT ‘Little Miss Sunshine’” reviews, and being a topical tie-in in the wake of Jaime-Lynn Spears’ own teenage pregnancy.

The flick is not the next “Little Miss Sunshine.” And that is a compliment because “LMS” wasn’t the revolutionary indie project critics and the Oscar wins made it out to be (Years later I’m still randomly shrieking, “Alan Arkin over Djimon Honsou!”).

But I digress, “Juno” is much-needed sunshine in the post-Christmas stretch of winter. Juno MacGuff, played by the adorably teeny and wicked talented Ellen Page, is a very self-aware teenager, mocking her own pregnancy with trendy, slangy snark, all while wordlessly handling it with the selfless responsibility of a mother-to-be. She can’t bring herself to abort her child, conceived with her best friend, yet she knows she can’t raise it the way any new life deserves. Already jaded by her parents’ divorce, she finds a perfect suburban couple in the town’s Penny Saver. Jennifer Garner gives an expectedly stunning and quietly pained turn as Vanessa Loring, a straight-laced type A women with an affinity for Martha Stewart-brand décor. Jason Bateman is her carefree, work-at-home husband, who’s smothered by his wife’s need to mother and his own fear of family and fatherhood.

Despite her alarming maturity, we’re reminded when Prom surfaces and Juno’s babydaddy takes a girl he didn’t knock up, that she’s still a child hoping to give her offspring the type of family portrait perfection she never had.

In the beginning, the dialogue and settings are too kitschy and even a tad contrived. I’m not that far from sixteen and teenagers don’t really talk like that. By the end of the movie, however, I was wishing the too-quirky reality of “Juno” was real. Because there would be a place where you might be able to find the “cheese to your macaroni” at sixteen and when your best friend is right there in the delivery room with you.

“Juno” is a film that inspires and wows, the type where the audience (surprisingly comprised of young people) doesn’t want to move until the credits roll because they don’t want the story to end. “Juno” made me laugh and want to cry, and moved me to finally buy a screenwriting book and a carton of Orange Tic Tacs.


Anonymous said...

i didn't like it. too gimmicky.

love ellen page though.

K said...

I should never review movies an hour after seeing them. I'm still all giddy that I got to escape from MY world for a few hours. Things always feel different the morning after, lol.