August 10, 2008

Juno (2007)

Okay dads, before you skip this movie because it looks like “chick flick with hipster dialogue,” take a deep breath and give it a chance – I don’t think you’ll regret it.

Sixteen-year-old Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) finds herself pregnant after sex with her boyfriend (Superbad’s Michael Cera). After an unsettling experience in the waiting room of an abortion clinic, she decides to keep the baby and give it up for adoption. When she chooses a yuppie couple (Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman), she forms a bond with them that plays out individually with each parent-to-be.

First-time screenwriter (and Oscar winner) Diablo Cody take the somber topic of teen pregnancy and injects enough levity, smart dialogue, and occasional moments of hilarity to keep Juno from becoming a Lifetime movie or extended after-school special. And 20-year-old Page is a star in the making, if this film is any indication. She does what any great actress does with a role: She makes us forget she’s acting.

Veteran character actors J.K. Simmons (the Spider-Man films, HBO’s “Oz”) and Allison Jenney (Private Parts, NBC’s “The West Wing”) do a great job as Juno’s dad and stepmom; Jenney has an especially juicy scene where she chews out the lab tech performing Juno’s ultrasound.

A good chunk of the film’s personality also lies with its soundtrack, a series of folksy alternative songs – especially the catchy opener, “All I Want Is You” by Barry Louis Polisar.

Juno did receive some backlash for its aforementioned hipster-speak and using the ever-growing crisis of pregnant teens as comic fodder. But forget all that; Juno is a solid above-average film in a growing wasteland of painfully-below-average dreck.

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5).
Will your kids want to watch it?
If you have tweens or teens, I’d say yes. And while Juno is rated PG-13 for mature themes and language, I doubt it’s anything they haven’t seen or heard before. As far as younger children, they wouldn’t appreciate the humor, and the subject matter might need some explaining.

Will your FilmMother like it?
Most definitely. It features a cast of strong yet flawed women, an engaging story and dialogue, and nobody gets blown up or gutted. Oh, did I also mention it revolves around a baby being born?

* Director: Jason Reitman
* Screenwriter: Diablo Cody
* Stars: Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner, J.K. Simmons, Allison Janney, Olivia Thirlby

1 comment:

Gemma said...

Loved, loved, loved this movie. You are right on so many levels. Ellen Page was AMAZING, and I really liked Michael Cera as well. This is the kind of film I would want to see a second time so I could catch what I missed the first time around! Great review!


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