Juno (2007)

juno IMDb

Sally
Juno is one of these movies that received heaps of praise when it was released and also struck a chord with audiences. I get it, this movie is so different than the other teen comedies being made at the time. I also don’t really understand what all the fuss is about. Juno is good, but I feel some of the praise it received is unwarranted.

Ellen Page is the titular Juno, a teenager who gets pregnant by her classmate (played by Michael Cera). She must learn to navigate the tricky world of adults after deciding to have the baby and place it up for adoption. The subject matter in Juno is treated with great respect, something not often seen in teen comedies or even all comedies about pregnancy (Knocked Up completely glosses over the female character’s decision to have her baby, and there is also eye roll-worthy dialogue with adult men talking about “shmasmortions”.). This movie actually shows some of Juno’s thought process after discovering her pregnancy, and any immaturity inherent in the conversation is justified by the fact that these are teenagers discussing the issue. Even so, Juno deals with teen pregnancy with uncommon honesty. There is nothing glamorous about her situation, and she is often on the receiving end of utter disrespect from her peers and adults who should know better.

On the other hand, very little of the dialogue or trends in the movie strike me as authentic. This feels like a vision of teendom completely of screenwriter Diablo Cody’s invention, and not a representation of the average teen that some claim it to be. The slang is incredibly stylized. Granted, I had not been a teenager for a good five years by the time this movie was released, but no one I knew talked like this (I also don’t recall my sister or her friends, who are a few years younger than me, talking like these characters either.). The trends also feel too quirky for real life teens at the time. Hamburger phones, Sunny D, striped clothing… again, these don’t strike me as things real teens in 2007 cared about. Though it could be argued that Cody and Juno may be partially responsible for the explosion of ironic hipster paraphernalia that is Urban Outfitters’ bread and butter. This movie is certainly full of those things.

I will say that Juno is impeccably cast. Ellen Page carries the film, a daunting task for any young actor but she does so effortlessly. The other surprise here is Jason Bateman, who plays the potential adoptive father of Juno’s baby. Bateman is always great, but typically plays nice guys. Here he is a jerk, which he plays well.

Overall Juno is a great movie, but I just didn’t connect with it in the way that others seemed to. Page more than proves that she has the talent to carry a film, and the treatment of the sensitive subject matter is well done. The film just feels too out there in terms of its portrayal of teenagers. I think it could have been just as funny and more effective if the quirk factor was reigned in just a little bit.

Rating: B


Ben
We recently watched Jennifer’s Body, a film written by Diablo Cody, who also wrote this film. Jennifer’s Body is basically Juno with less pregnant teens and more possessed Megan Fox’s. The only part of Jennifer’s Body I did enjoy was the dialogue. Cody is able to capture perfectly how teenagers interact and converse with each other, it was just unfortunate that all that horror stuff had to get in the way of Jennifer’s Body. Juno has no such problem. The fact that Ellen Page is far superior in terms of acting talent than Megan Fox helps a great deal also.

Ellen Page plays Juno, a young teen in a small town. After a bored afternoon of love making with her best friend (Michael Cera), she ends up pregnant. Juno decides to give the baby up for adoption, and finds a seemingly perfect couple to raise her child (Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman). As she gets to know this couple, she realises that their marriage isn’t perfect and they may not be the best choice to hand her baby over too.

This is the film that introduced Ellen Page to a mainstream audience. He portrayal of snarky and never flustered Juno is almost perfect. A strong script absolutely makes Page’s job easier, but she does a great job with them. I particularly loved the scenes with just teenager interaction. Page and Michael Cera have some great moments, even if Cera is basically playing the same awkward nervous teenager he always does. Page’s scenes with her friend Leah (Olivia Thirlby) are also a lot of fun.

Juno is in nearly every scene of this film so it was essential that they got a strong performance from Ellen Page, and she delivers. She has tremendous chemistry with the entire cast. I liked her scenes with her parents (J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney) a lot. You believe she is a moody teenager and that she is really conversing with her parents in these scenes. I know I’ve already talked a lot about Page’s performance, but she is so good, I really feel I need to ram that down your throat.

Juno is a quirky look at the very real problem of teen pregnancy. It is handled with respect, and a little bit of humour thrown in also. Ellen Page carries the film as the title character, but she is ably supported by a terrific cast.

Rating: B+

One thought on “Juno (2007)

  1. Pingback: Knocked Up (2007) | From The Abyss to Zoolander

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