Juno MacGuff’s “eggo is preggo” and the only solution in her eyes is to pass the bastard child along to the cutesy Vanessa Loring (Jennifer Garner) and her unenthusiastic husband Mark Loring (Jason Bateman) who, as relatively newlyweds, are incapable of reproducing. Witty one-liners often involving ebonics, such as “fo shizz”, make Juno, played by 15 year-old Ellen Page, the coolest teenage character in film since Natalie Portman’s portrayal as Sam in Garden State – a similar trendy Indie released a few years ago.
Juno is currently being praised as “the best comedy of the year”, and it certainly lives up to the title. It’s almost impossible to keep up with the hilarious dialogue that rolls off each character’s tongue. Directed by Jason Reitman, who brought us Thank You for Smoking and written by newbie Diablo Cody, Juno succeeds as a comedy, but falls short when it comes to being an overall great film. Reitman and Cody deserve an A for effort, but there are a couple of plot holes, as well as some dialogue that, at times, feels as if it is being forced down viewers’ throats– attempting to prove how hip the characters actually are.
The mainstream-Indie, which resembles last years ‘little Indie that could’ Little Miss Sunshine, is also clearly influenced from the lesser-known 2001 film, Ghost World. Juno MacGuff isn’t a sugar-coated cheerleader character, but instead, like Sam in Garden State, she is considered ‘cool’ and ‘different’ because of her strong taste in unpopular music and her nonchalant attitude towards the world. Perhaps it is a good thing that the stereotypical cheerleader characters are being replaced by smart, interesting girls with good taste in rock and roll. On the other hand, these new ‘Indie’ girls are becoming the new stereotype. Isn’t it possible, in the real world, for there to be a girl who can be a cheerleader but also listen to the Pixies? According to these films, it is not.
Juno’s family is led by her supportive father, Mac, played by JK Simmons and her dog-obsessed step-mother Bren, played hilariously by West Wing alum, Alison Janney. Her best friend Leah (Olivia Thirlby) is a funny sidekick, but unfortunately, it is hard to focus on the talent that Thirlby has because Page is constantly stealing the show from anyone who she comes in contact with. The very last branch that makes up Juno’s family tree is her almost-boyfriend Paulie Bleeker, a.k.a., the dude who knocked her up. He is portrayed by Superbad’s Micahel Cera, and he is awkwardly funny as ever. To quote Juno (talking to Paulie Bleeker), ‘you’re, like, the coolest person I’ve ever met, and you don’t even have to try.’ Cera makes looking cool so incredibly simple. It’s a shame there isn’t a handbook one can read in order to emulate his every move.
Besides her eccentric family, who are similar to the cast in Little Miss Sunshine, there are the Lorings, played by Garner and Bateman. Garner’s character, Vanessa, wants nothing more than a child. She feels she was born to be a mother. Bateman’s character Mark, on the other hand, isn’t quite as thrilled. He is an ex-rocker who still dreams of his past freedom on the stage. Because of his strong taste in music, he and Juno bond. However, this bond is the main reason the movie falls short. Juno and Mark’s relationship makes for a confusing/awkward subplot that tears away from the overall simplicity of the film.
If it weren’t for the exquisite dialogue and the chemistry between the actors, let alone, the actors’ phenomenal performances, Juno wouldn’t have been praised as ‘the best comedy of the year’. As two young, relatively new-to-the-scene actors, Page and Cera bounce off of each other in such a natural way, and they truly make their characters come alive. Their relationship is young and fresh and, if you aren’t busy ‘awwing’ during the last scene of the film, I can promise that you will at least have a large grin on your face.