Friday, June 13, 2008


My wife and I waited a long time to see Juno. When we first saw the trailer, we both agreed that it looked cute and hilarious. Aside from waiting and never knowing when it would be released nearby, it was very much worth the wait. Juno is an exceptional film.
The movie centers on the title character, Juno, a bright girl that accidentally gets pregnant at age 16. She does so with the help of her best friend, Bleeker. Yet, there's no preaching here – the movie is unbiased in all aspects. The script pokes fun at both sides of the pro-choice/pro-life debate and never picks a side - Juno's choice is never really explained. The film isn't about whether her pregnancy was right or wrong or if she's making the right choices thereafter. It's really just a story about a girl thrown into an adult world and learning about love.
I really loved the characters in this movie. Each one brings something to the table, and each one has their share of funny one-liners. The movie is chock full of one-liners actually - Juno having the most. Most of her remarks are barbed and sarcastic. She tries to come off as tough and cool. On the inside, Juno is very sweet and can be hurt. Ellen Page does a wonderful job portraying this very complicated young girl.
Bleeker is played by Michael Cera. He's funny and perfect for the role. I imagine Cera is a lot like Bleeker. My only complaint is that he's on-screen for about 10 minutes. When Juno proclaims that he's "totally boss", we really never saw the evidence. The movie is mostly about Juno and the married couple – not about Bleeker.
My favorite character is played by Jennifer Garner, whom I usually don't like. Garner picks very traditional roles and, until this movie, hasn't displayed any acting talent. Sorry, that's harsh – I guess she was good in Dude, Where's my Car?. In Juno, Garner plays Vanessa, a wife longing to be a mother. Vanessa and Mark (Jason Bateman) want to adopt Juno's baby. Vanessa wants to be a mother so badly that she seems crazy at first. Garner does a brilliant job of altering the audience's perspective over time. After a while we start to feel bad for her. There is a very memorable scene where Vanessa tries to feel the baby kicking in Juno's tummy - in the middle of a shopping mall. The act very nearly crosses the line into creepiness, and had a lesser actor been involved it might have been odd. But instead we are given a very beautiful and sweet moment that almost brought me to tears. Almost.
The one little blemish on this picture actually annoyed me quite a bit. Music is a major theme in Juno. Juno and Bleeker share a love of punk rock. However, the soundtrack of the film is mostly folk and, although I hate to use the term, it's very "indie". Juno and Bleeker even sing a cute folk tune together. I think the folk music is perfect for the film, and the quirkiness of it represents the main characters well. I just don't understand why Juno needs to constantly make reference to 80's punk rock. It's so cliché to have a rebellious character enjoy and promote punk rock. Juno even lectures grunge rocker Mark, on how punk is better than grunge. If anything, she should have introduced a more current style of music to Mark, the folksy kind her band plays. I think that would have appropriately followed the generational theme of their scenes together.
Juno is a very good movie. It's sweet but not sappy, hilarious but not gross, and clever but not pretentious. Juno doesn't try to sway your opinion of teenage pregnancy – it's just a really good story.

4 delicious Slurpees

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