Juno the Movie

The writer and director of last year’s off-beat comedy Thank You for Smoking, Jason Reitman has given me one of my top-ten films of 2007: Juno. It is funny, life-affirming, quirky and charming in an edgy, loving kind of way. Writer Diablo Cody (a woman) is right up there with Aaron Sorkin and David Kelly in terms of sharp, rapid-fire dialogue, imbued with humor and deeply-felt life.

 

Juno (played by Ellen Page; X-Men: the Last Stand) has blurry intercourse with her boyfriend (played by Michael Cera) because she is bored (we find out later; her step-mother, played by Allison Janney, provides this rationale) and, at 16, becomes pregnant. She considers an abortion but as she enters a clinic, a friend who is picketing yells after her: “Your baby has fingernails!” This idea ultimately convinces Juno to have the baby and give him or her up for adoption.

She finds a couple who have advertised in the  local Penny Saver. She and her dad go to visit and the adoption process is underway. Complications ensue amidst some underplayed hilarity and commentary by the precocious Juno and her clueless, but generous and good-hearted parents. Juno is is so much smarter than they are, and she knows it, yet their relationship is so beautifully portrayed, as parents and child, that this remains one of the strongest – and most touching – aspects of the film.

Juno is playing in art house theaters here in LA but it deserves a general theatrical release; maybe the Golden Globe nomination will give this life-affirming film the attention it deserves.

At first I wondered what on earth people were going on about regarding the film (because of the opening sequence), but after five or ten minutes I was hooked.

If you love movies, you won’t want to miss this one.

If you are tentative about movies, try this one and be surprised. Talk about heart.

Others have probably said this but Juno feels like a girl’s version of Napoleon Dynamite. Both Juno and the father of her baby dwell in high school borderlands; neither one really fits in. Juno has a girl as its hero, the main character, and it is very life-affirming, as is the film Waitress.

This film deserves a study guide; another film that could launch a thousand conversations – good conversations about things that matter.

This isn’t a romance; it is a coming of age film about all kinds of love and understanding what authentic love is.

 

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