Teenage pregnancy is frequently a starting point for myriad philosophical arguments: some see it as a major problem, some see it as an argument for the need of early teaching of contraceptive technique and sex education, some see it as a reason for championing abortion, and some see it as a piece of life that confronts families in both positive and negative ways. JUNO is a beautifully written (Diablo Cody) and directed (Jason Reitman) version of unplanned pregnancy offered by a splendid ensemble cast: it is a movie that could modify the sociologic outlook of many people in a very strong fashion.
Juno (Ellen Page) is sixteen and talks her best friend Bleek (Michael Cera) into having sex: the result is a surprise pregnancy that Juno shares with her girlfriend Leah (Olivia Thirley) and the store clerk Rollo (Rainn Wilson) even before informing Bleek, a likable kid who seems fairly flat about the situation. After discarding abortion as a viable solution, Juno informs her father (JK Simmons) and stepmother (Allison Janney) of her status, and tells them she is going to complete the pregnancy and give the baby to some loving and needy barren couple. Her parents are at first flustered by the news, but quickly become supportive in a way that tells us many things about the durability of successful families. With Leah's help, Juno answers an ad for 'wanted: baby' in PennySaver and visits the Lorings (Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman) who desperately want a child and embrace Juno's gesture of adoption with eager excitement. The remainder of the film follows Juno as her abdomen increases in girth, finding new respect for her parents and for Bleek, and inadvertently walking in the troubled waters of the Loring's marital discord. Without giving the story away, the ending is so tender and free of cliché that it allows us, the audience, to appreciate all the vigor and sensitivity and humor and warmth of Juno - an example of developing maturity that is a fresh breeze compared to the usual teenage movies.
Ellen Page does indeed deliver a pitch perfect performance, but her co-stars are equally fine: Simmons and Janney break away from their usual type cast roles brilliantly, and the other members of the cast (the entire cast) flesh out this well written story with great skill. The mixture of animated graphics and the imaginative musical score enhance the flavor of the tale. JUNO offers an unbiased look at the topic of teenage pregnancy and wins on every level. Grady Harp, April 08
on April 15, 2008
Juno a teen who becomes pregnant by her friend and decides to give up the baby for adoption to a lovely couple or does she change her mind. I reccomend all teens to see this, not to get the idea to just go out and have sex to so call (get a baby) but let the teen see what Juno has to go through on her own being pregnant without the baby's father having anything to do with her or the child. It happens all the time in the world we live in. Being puzzled about how it was going to end....Well I wont give the ending away you just need to view it for yourself. This movie is a serious subject, but has humor by Juno. I was happy to have purchased this myself. Ellen Page (Juno) a rising actress. Through friendship and pregnancy, there is a bond of LOVE forever.
on June 23, 2016
this film is one of those moments in entertainment that change the way things are done. It spawned or is spawning a new genre of feminist based, female empowered if you prefer, entertainment - like Orange is the New Black, or Jessica Jones. I especially like that the humor is more of the Hollywood sons - whose humor is old and adolescent, and usually at the expense of a woman, jokes about mistreatment of women, even something like Knocked Up that supposedly turns the tables does not really turn any tables at all. No, Juno is, was new.
The actor - Ellen Page is a tiny monotoned actor whose face delivers comedy or drama equally well. I mean, she has an interesting face. The story - putting an unwanted pregnancy up for adoption - this screen writer manages to keep it light and yet extract alittle empathy from the audience. Teenagers in trouble, everyone here is pithy and has a list of their own issues, equally as disturbing as Juno's. But Juno is new at it, and by the end of the film her innocence is not totally undone by her experience. That's upbeat.
Michael Cera is well cast, kind of self-serving humor and his innocent face lend him a very authentic note in the role of prom attending track running dad.
I like it a lot, and yet it's not the kind of film i like to watch very often. And so I take away a star, because some important films don't drill a whole in the day you saw them, and then you cant really watch them again with as much interest. I can watch the Godfather over and over but Juno, maybe not. I'm glad it's out there. I just don't want it in my house every night.
on June 11, 2008
I read somewhere that in ancient times, a woman's soul or a window into her thoughts was called "juno". There was also a separate masculine word for the same thing.
The movie JUNO seems to give us a glimpse or a window into the thoughts and soul of our young 16 year old protagonist. In fact, in the movie, Juno discusses how her father was obsessed with Greek and Roman mythology at the time she was born.
As a movie viewer, I have to admit that I felt that I was indeed looking into the mind, soul and heart of this young girl who faces a pregnancy she wasn't counting on. Ellen Page does a tremendous job with the lead character of Juno MacGuff. There are moments when the language is a bit quirky like some other reviewers noticed; but you overcome this because of the depth and the soul of the performances. Michael Cera is magnificent as Paulie and is perfectly lovable in his portrayal of the ill prepared, ill equipped young father.
Though I loved Cera's and Page's performances, the movie does deal with teen age pregnancy, discussion of abortion, has some sexual scenes and some other segments which a parent may or may not want their family to view. I believe in fairness to the film that all of the above was handled incredibly well.
Despite the above and maybe because of the expert handling of some very sensitive subjects, Jason Reitman hits a home run with his second feature film. It is a stunner and definately the standout that critics say it is. Deserving a lot of the credit is Diablo Cody who really is the creative mind behind the story itself.
Recommended as a wonky, dorky, quirky experience of family values both good and bad. B++
Juno (Single-Disc Edition)Juno (Two-Disc Special Edition with Digital Copy)Juno [Blu-ray]
on January 30, 2008
Probably a tad bit over-hyped and over-praised, Juno is a charming little tale about a girl who finds herself in a very womanly condition and is unprepared for life's new realities. Ellen Page plays the title heroine with all the spunk and cynicism of an underage Janeane Garofalo in her nine month journey from copulation to parturition, as she struggles with her ever-expanding belly and the added pressure of turning her child over to an adoptive couple.
Sometimes vulgar and always sassy, Juno may stretch the limits of believability with her quick wit at times. Like male characters from Kevin Smith films, she's just a tad bit too quick and too smart. A lot of her snarky comments get delivered with such speed that she's already snapped another off before the first makes sense.
But as the film progresses, her "f-you" attitude to the world is revealed to be a façade hiding someone more tender and idealistic. Roger Ebert says she's a character he wants to hug. Although most audiences would agree, Juno herself would probably be quick to point out that Rog is a little old to be hugging underage girls.
Like the previously released "Knocked Up", a heart exists at the center of Juno that makes the tale irresistible. Of course, the film has its share of "bad guys", but the bulk of the story is about people trying to do what's right and who want to make the best of their time on earth. It's easy to care about the people in Juno, to feel happiness when they're happy, and to hurt when they hurt.
SLIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD: My biggest complaint with the film is it's reluctance to embrace what seemed like should have been the logical conclusion. The film establishes a choice Juno must make: either to keep her child or turn it over to a wealthy, childless couple played by Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner. The couple live in the suburbs, own nice cars, wear sweaters and drink expensive wine. But Hollywood is not ready to make a film that praises the virtues of a two-parent household over that of a single mother, so something must happen to prevent that ending. The people behind this film couldn't have their audiences leaving the theater thinking the movie promoted traditional views of the ideal home from a child, so they throw together a very reaching and questionable ending where a single-mother household is shown to be the best solution to the problem of a child born to a single mother. Huh? Exactly. Again, Hollywood shows its political leanings. Unlike a much brave film (Gone Baby Gone), Juno lost an opportunity to deal with the realities of what is/isn't the best environment for a child, and instead opts for a save conclusion that won't offend any feminists groups. Too bad.
on June 3, 2008
When I first heard about JUNO, I had some mixed feelings about venturing to see this film solely because of the fact that it's about a pregnant teenager. There are so many elements here that makes this movie likeable and it could have ventured into something depressing, but it didn't.
Diablo Cody should get some kudos for grasping the concept of how the quirky yet outcast teenager acts nowadays. The writing for this is simplistic, but it's Ellen Page's portrayal of Juno that knocks the movie out of the ballpark. She played Juno with a lot of heart and sarcasm and almost accepting of her situation.
What was wonderful about this film was the fact that each of the actors and their relationships evolved for a reason. Michael Cera's portrayal of (Paulie Bleeker) was one of bewilderment and confusion over the fact that Juno was pregnant. How would a teenage boy act if he got his girlfriend accidentally pregnant? That was about as realistic as it comes. Jennifer Garner did an amazing job of playing her role as well as a woman who was in desperate need of family and wanted to have a child at all costs and it was refreshing to see her play a character that wasn't an action character, but a character with a lot of heart and she showed a lot of range that she has never had in the roles that have been given to her. Jason Bateman coming to the realization with his character was great as well. Jason and Jennifer complimented each other as it was a real situation that they were able to deal with.
Overall, the film makes light of a serious subject and it all wraps it up like a bow the end result. It may not be a result that everyone is going to be happy with, but it was a result that made sense nonetheless and connected each character to each other for life.
on April 2, 2011
It was weird to watch this with my daughter, who is just about the age of the girl in this film. What is so wonderful about the film is that it truly gets to the essence of how a child would experience a pregnancy that was a mistake. On the verge of getting an abortion, she decides to have the child and finds a local family for it. Then she goes on with her life, muddling through like so many high school students. It is believable, moving, funny, disturbing, and uplifting, a wonderful stimulus to dialogue between generations. The ending is a little la-di-dah with newfound love, there are perhaps not enough emotional consequences - but that might be the point, when she and her boyfriend do not even want to see the baby - but it is genuinely beautiful in its own way. The acting is absolutely superb, with all the pain and confusion of adolescents dealing (or not) with adult issues.
on April 21, 2008
Without spoilers, the story follows a 9 month journey through an accidental pregnancy of a 16-year old high school student, who ultimately decides to follow her pregnancy to term.
The fact that this decision is tied to a negative exchange with a gothic receptionist at an abortion clinic is a tad flimsy, but she nevertheless concedes that she's not ready to assume the responsibilities of motherhood. With this in mind, she finds an appropriately "cool" older couple interested in adopting, through an ad in a local newspaper.
But this is merely the sketch. The real story lies just beneath the surface.
The film is fundamentally a celebration of the power of youth. Juno conceives a child that is biologically out of reach to an adopting, older couple. This is further punctuated by her cavalier references to the "thing" in her stomach, as though it were a new toy in the window of FAO Swartz; something taken for granted by a kid too young to appreciate her station in life.
Then the woman's husband discovers a connection [love interest] with Juno he never had with his wife, which is born out of a kind of arrested adolescence, coupled with a wife whose pathological obsession with having a child eclipses her connection with him. Finally, Juno discovers real love [can't tell you where] in spite of her precarious spontaneity, unfiltered insightfulness, and complete lack of boundaries.
I found it ironic that the key to the dreams of all the adults rested with a sixteen year old girl. Even her mother's love of dogs was placed on hold until Juno grew up and out of the house [Juno is allergic to "dog saliva"]. But while this irony is compelling, Juno is one extraordinary teenager...and not in the sense that I'm used to seeing in anyone that age.
Her edgy, cavalier and distinctly adult dialog felt more like the hand of the screenwriter, which would place her character in a much older category. I also found the relationship with her parents to be superficial, given the circumstances. The fact that they accepted her pregnancy as a matter of course was a little farfetched, which tended to leave reality in the lurch.
In view of this, I allowed my willing suspension of disbelief to flow freely as I enjoyed the solid acting and good story line.
In the end, however, I could feel the screenwriter's hand throughout every scene in the film, which left me a tad indignant towards a leading character that was just too far beyond her years.
Diablo Cody is the author of the bestseller, Candy Girl. This is her first produced screenplay.
on December 28, 2007
Of all the offbeat, heartwarming dramatic comedies of recent memory, Jason Reitman's "Juno" is definitely one of the better ones. It tells the story of an independent teenage girl who finds herself faced with an unplanned pregnancy: a realistic scenario, no question, and for some, it's even relatable. Ellen Page--whose performance in 2005's "Hard Candy" scared the living hell out of me--plays the title character, utilizing an entirely different but equally effective emotional range. Sixteen-year-old Juno MacGuff is a lively yet misunderstood young woman, always making wry comments on everything and everyone. Some of her comments are downright inappropriate. You wouldn't expect a girl like this to be foolish and have unprotected sex, but as she says later on, "I don't know what kind of girl I am."
The baby's father is her best friend, Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera), a quiet, lanky teen who loves Tic Tacs and has a passion for running. One gets the sense that he doesn't actually say most of what he's thinking; when Juno tells him that she's pregnant because of that one night, all he can think to say is, "Whose idea was it?" In Juno's eyes, he's just about the coolest guy on the planet. But she knows that he's not ready to be a parent, and as it turns out, neither is she. This is probably why they both agree that an abortion is the best idea. Of course, Juno is unable to go through with it by the time she reaches the clinic; she said that it smelled like a dentist's office, and she couldn't stand the girl at the help desk (a goth-type who offers her a boysenberry-scented condom). With abortion no longer an option, she settles on giving the baby up for adoption.
And as it happens, an ad in the Pennysaver shows a black and white photo of a couple looking to adopt. Here enter Mark (Jason Bateman) and Vanessa Loring (Jennifer Garner), who live in an upscale gated community. As is the case with a lot of couples, their attempts to conceive have been unsuccessful; Jennifer is desperate to be a mother, and Mark seems ready and willing to be a father. When Juno enters their lives, they agree on a closed-door policy, meaning that Juno wants absolutely nothing to do with the baby after it's born: she doesn't want the Lorings to keep in touch with her or to send her updates. With everything seemingly set in stone, the papers are signed and the deals are made.
Things start to change when Juno has her first ultrasound. She immediately drives back to the Lorings' home, hoping to show them a picture of their unborn baby. Because only Mark is home, an unlikely friendship is kick started: they have the same tastes in music (although they disagree about the best year for punk rock--Mark says 1992 while Juno says 1977); they both play electric guitars, Juno having been part of a band and Mark being an advertisement composer; they both love excessively gory horror films, and Mark convinces Juno that the films of Dario Argento are tame compared to the films of Herschell Gordon Lewis. All this seems innocent enough, but don't you already get the sense that something inappropriate is going on here? Not inappropriate in the sexual sense, but definitely in the sense that neither Juno nor Mark are setting up boundaries. He will, after all, be parenting her child; forming a friendship will probably do more harm than good.
And consider a moment when Juno and her girlfriend are at the mall: Juno sees Vanessa in the kids' area, energetically playing with one of her friend's young children. This makes Juno smile, because it's clear that Vanessa is serious about wanting to be a mother. The same can't be said for Mark, who may not, in fact, be ready to go through with an adoption. Keep in mind that he and Juno never speak about the baby or even parenthood during one of her visits; all their conversations focus on personal interests, and as we all know, personal interests have absolutely no place in the life of a parent. This eventually begins to bring Juno down, threatening to destroy her already limited faith in humanity.
All this affects her relationship with Paulie, who doesn't understand what it's like to be a pregnant high school student. Not only does everyone clear away from her as she walks down the hall, they also stare uncontrollably at her swelling stomach. Nevertheless, she begins to suspect that her feelings for Paulie may run deeper than she first thought, which forces her to put her life into perspective: while she may not always get along with her father (J.K. Simmons) and stepmother (Allison Janney), and while home may sometimes get hectic, the reality is that it's still home, and as the saying goes, home is where the heart is.
What exactly would a film like this have to offer the everyday person? I questioned that many times as I watched, and my initial conclusion was, "Not a heck of a lot." This is, after all, an oddball film about an oddball character in an oddball situation. But as I left the theater and began the drive home, my thoughts gradually shifted, and I began to realize that this film offers quite a lot. It cleverly shows that life is always in a state of flux, and no matter what we do to prepare, some unexpected things will happen. Granted, this is not a new idea, but considering how well made this film is--how relatable the characters are (if a little strange) and how nicely the story unfolds--it doesn't really matter.
on August 5, 2014
The film treats a serious matter, teen pregnancy, in a relatively light-hearted manner. Ellen Page does an admirable job, but I've never seen a teenager faced with the problems she encountered handle them in such a mature, thoughtful manner. In fact, Page's character is portrayed as more mature than the 30-something potential adopted father. The film is mostly enjoyable to watch, but also a little annoying as well. .