Nov 30, 2007


Diablo Cody is a young woman that was living in Minnesota and doing sex work (whatever that means) when a guy from LA contacted her on her blog and asked her to write a screenplay, which she did. The result four years later is Juno, well directed by Jason Reitman.
This is the kind of "Lana Turner discovered at Schwab's" story that makes my stomach churn with envy, I must confess. In the case of Diablo, and to judge from the very entertaining film, she is actually very talented, so on the one hand the stomach churns violently; on the other, chapeau to her.
Juno is the story of a prickly, sarcastic, but sweet 16 year old high school student who gets pregnant by the very flappable Michael Cera, in yet another one of his quiet, nebbishy performances.
I love Michael Cera and I wish somebody gives him a villainous role soon. It would be wonderful to see him play against type.
Juno is played by the formidable Ellen Page, who I am sure will be the subject of much awarding this season. The film is very funny, quite endearing and it sports very spunky dialogue. It is quite up to date with teenage patois, which tends more towards sophistication than monosyllables. There is plenty of verbal dexterity in this film and the language is quite original.
In a way, Juno is like a fairy tale for bohemians that tries to turn certain stereotypes of the pregnant teenager genre on its toes. For instance, Juno's parents, hilariously and warmly portrayed by JK Simmons and Allison Janney, are actually very sympathetic oddballs, instead of the garden variety uncomprehending sansabelt weirdos that usually populate this genre.
In fact, what I liked best about this movie was the acting. The comedy was just right, the pitch quite perfect. Jason Bateman is great as a repressed rocker married to the very uptight Jennifer Garner, who wants to adopt Juno's bundle of joy, or the "thing" as Juno fondly calls it.
I saw Jason Reitman's Thank You For Smoking and I thought it was leaden and unfunny, but in Juno he displays great finesse, a great sense of light satire and much humanity. He seems much more inspired by this material.
On the surface the movie seems unconventional, but at heart it is sheer fantasy. People make much of the fact that this is a spunky teenage heroine, as opposed to the teenage male mutants we are used to seeing each and every summer. She is an outsider, as is her family, but there is a very conventional core to this film. She wants the kid to grow up in a good home and this being a comedy, I will not ruin it for you if I tell you it has a happy ending that would probably not be as saccharine were the same thing to happen in real life.
Still, it is funny and enjoyable and moving. It reminded me a little bit of Little Miss Sunshine and I feel it tries a bit too hard to show it's indy oddball credentials (some of the cutesy music drove me nuts), but it grows on you, just like Juno's belly, and you end up liking it.

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