From James Roland at redfenceproject.comDirector: Jason Reitman
Cast: Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, J.K. Simmons, Allison Janney, Olivia ThirlbyRotten Tomatoes Rating: 92%Our Rating: A
If Frank Capra had an edgy, pop-culture savvy ex-stripper granddaughter, she would probably be Diablo Cody.
Cody’s first script, Juno
, has all the charm, wit, and hope of a Capra film; and like It’s a Wonderful Life
and You Can’t Take it With You
, Cody’s story manages to project sweetness and hope without compromising its art.
But Juno will never play on TBS over the holidays, because it delivers its feel good message with smirks and snark.
Juno is the geek certified uber-girl-next-door. She’s cute, brainy, witty, and has a head stuffed full of pop-culture. Played by Ellen Page, a tremendously talented Canadian actor with a baby face and tiny frame that allow her to play characters below her age range, Juno’s humor and charm infuse the entire film. When she finds out she’s pregnant by her best pal Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera) she sets about telling her family and finding potential adoptive parents through the local want ads.
For the first half of the film, characters banter their way around the tough issues of teen pregnancy and abortion. Juno herself paves the way for a cast that could all use a good year of therapy for their sarcastic defense mechanism. But as the story progresses, a low-key sadness filters through all the tongue-in-cheek. Juno wonders if she really wants to keep the baby, Paulie longs to show his love to Juno by helping her through her struggles, and the baby’s future parents (played by Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman) wonder if their marriage will survive an adopted baby.
But while the film acknowledges these hard facts, it never succumbs to cynicism.Juno
is directed by up-and-coming comedy auteur Jason Reitman (director of last year’s Thank You for Smoking
and son of Ghostbusters
director Ivan Reitman). Reitman’s style is similar to films of Jared Hess, using long camera shots, rich, saturated colors, and unique indie music to create a slightly exaggerated reality.
These quirks give Juno
a smiling, toe-tapping feel that counters its modern, “in your face” subject matter. It’s a throwback to another time and a glimpse of possible film future: heartwarming family dramas. With abortion jokes for the kids.