Not another teen comedy
For an indie flick, Juno sure did have a good showing in Chico last weekend. I’m sure it had something to do with the weather—and most of the town’s lack of power (including at the Pageant)—but still, it was damn near sold out for three days at Tinseltown!
Needless to say, I was one of the lucky ticket holders. And, despite being well out of high school, I found the teen comedy quite charming. Probably because it’s more than just a teen comedy.
The title character, Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page), is a witty, semi-punk 16-year-old who gets knocked up after a single encounter with her equally nerdy friend Bleeker (Michael Cera). The film follows as her pregnancy progresses and she goes out in search of adoptive parents (she chooses the decidedly better-off Mark and Vanessa Loring, played by Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner).
Teen pregnancy is anything but charming, but the way Juno handles the situation and how the film depicts her relationships—with her parents, classmates, friends—changing, make the story more about coming of age than loss of innocence.
Innocence, in fact, is decidedly not lost in Juno. It’s her innocence that allows her to look at a situation that makes most adults (parents in particular) cringe and see the good that can come of it, in the bigger scheme of things. Juno’s parents are actually very supportive, even if they don’t approve of how she found herself in her “condition.”
As adoptive parents, the Lorings are perfectly cast. Garner’s Vanessa, while a little overbearing, is bubbly and sweet, while her husband Mark is a wannabe rock star who strikes a chord with Juno. (The relationship between Juno and Mark is cute—swapping mix CDs and talking about music—but the indie part of the flick goes a little off the deep end in these scenes, which are perhaps the only annoying parts of the movie.)
Director Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking) keeps a steady pace throughout the film, with witty banter aplenty, but allowing real emotions to shine through (no matter how much the characters try to hide them). In the end, Juno may be the Napoleon Dynamite of 2008, only with fewer catch-phrases and a much more down-to-earth, true-to-life feel.