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JUNO stars Ellen Page as the title character, a whip-smart teen confronting an unplanned pregnancy by her classmate Bleeker (Cera). With the help of her hot best friend Leah (Thirlby), Juno finds her unborn child a "perfect" set of parents: an affluent suburban couple, Mark and Vanessa (Bateman and Garner), longing to adopt. Luckily, Juno has the total support of her parents (Simmons and Janney) as she faces some tough decisions, flirts with adulthood and ultimately figures out where she belongs.
Somewhere between the sharp satire of Election and the rich human comedy of You Can Count On Me lies Juno, a sardonic but ultimately compassionate story of a pregnant teenage girl who wants to give her baby up for adoption. Social misfit Juno (Ellen Page, Hard Candy, X-Men: The Last Stand) protects herself with a caustic wit, but when she gets pregnant by her friend Paulie (Michael Cera, Superbad), Juno finds herself unwilling to terminate the pregnancy. When she chooses a couple who place a classified ad looking to adopt, Juno gets drawn further into their lives than she anticipated. But Juno is much more than its plot; the stylized dialogue (by screenwriter Diablo Cody) seems forced at first, but soon creates a richly textured world, greatly aided by superb performances by Page, Cera, Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman as the prospective parents, and J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man) and Allison Janney as Juno's father and stepmother. Director Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking) deftly keeps the movie from slipping into easy, shallow sarcasm or foundering in sentimentality. The result is smarter and funnier than you might expect from the subject matter, and warmer and more touching than you might expect from the cocky attitude. Page's performance is deceptively simple; she never asks the audience to love her, yet she effortlessly carries a movie in which she's in almost every scene. That's star power. --Bret Fetzer
Get to Know Juno's Cast
Ellen Page (Juno MacGuff)
Michael Cera (Paulie Bleeker)
Jennifer Garner (Vanessa Loring)
Jason Bateman (Mark Loring)
Allison Janney (Bren MacGuff)
J.K. Simmons (Mac MacGuff)
More from Screenwriter Diablo Cody
More from Fox
Stills from Juno
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That seems to be the goal of "Juno," a relentlessly quirky, cracking-wise little comedy about a girl who makes a dumb mistake, and the smart decisions she has to make after that. While it initially seems rather precious, the Wes Andersonesque scriptings hide a bittersweet, warm little story about responsibility and love.
After a lot of Sunny D and three pregnancy tests, Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) comes to the inevitable conclusion: she's pregnant by her friend Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera).
Because she "heard in health class that pregnancy often results in an infant," Juno initially goes in for an abortion, but ends up running out of the clinic. Instead, she's going to have the baby and give it to someone who wants one, but can't have it. So she reluctantly fesses up to her parents, and starts scouting ads for suitably (if unedgy) parents for her baby -- the wealthy Mark (Jason Bateman) and Vanessa (Jennifer Garner).
Mark and Juno form a bond over their shared tastes, but she starts to suspect that not all is well in Yuppieland -- especially when Mark decides to break up with Vanessa, because fatherhood would force him to be a grown-up, not a rock god. As her due date approaches, Juno must decide what is best for herself, Vanessa, the baby... and just maybe, the adoring Paulie.
Recliners on the lawn, cactus-grams, guitars with names and "The Wizard of Gore" -- it's pretty obvious that "Juno" will win prizes for kooky quirk, if nothing else. It certainly has that in spades, and while it has some awkwardly scripted moments, the colourful and acerbic portrait of a teenage girl having to make some heavy adult decisions is definitely a winning one.
Admittedly, "Juno" is a bit too precious in the first few scenes, when we have a weird store clerk saying things like "Your eggo is preggo" and getting replies like "Silencio!" Come on, loosen up and stop trying to be cooler-than-thou.
But as the pregnancy storyline really kicks in, "Juno" settles into a storyline that is equal parts quirky-funny and touching. Jason Reitman flavours the whole plot with his snappy, clever direction with plenty of acid-laced voiceovers from Juno, on the world around her. And Diablo Cody's dialogue ranges from deliciously sharp ("I'm not crying, I'm just allergic to fine home furnishing") to entertainingly over-the-top ("Phuket, Thailand!").
But as witty and quirky as the plot is, it wouldn't be much if it didn't also have a heart. As the movie winds on, we get to see Juno maturing -- learning to weigh coolness vs. maturity, appreciate her family, and what is right for her baby and the Lorings -- the scene where Juno helps an upset Vanessa talk to her baby is adorable. Not to mention that our pregnant heroine has to figure out whether true love is staring her in the face.
Ellen Page gives a note-perfect performance -- her Juno is funny, sassy, wise beyond her years, and profoundly unconventional ("Thundercats are go!"). Cera is equally good in a more subdued, lovably dorky role; it's pretty hard not to love Paulie just for being himself. And Garner and Bateman are wonderful too, as an uptight, lonely woman who desperately wants a baby, and a Peter Pan type who doesn't want to act like a grown-up. Bleah, who needs him?
"Juno" has its flaws -- moments of excessive preciousness -- but it has plenty of heart, wicked dialogue, and excellent acting. Call it a Cautionary Whale.