If I said there were no words to express how great Juno is, then this would be one very boring review. But I must say it's hard to find the right words to describe how friggin' amazing Juno is. I've been working on this review for three days!
It's like Waitress with a little bit of Knocked Up and dash of every great indie film you've ever seen thrown in. The whole cast (especially Ellen Page) is wonderful.
Juno (Page) is not-the-popular-type teenager who has sex with one of her best friends, Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera) in a really comfortable chair. A few weeks later, she discovers that chair sex can lead to pregnancy. After a traumatizing experience at the abortion clinic, she decides to have the child and give it up for adoption. The lucky couple are Mark and Vanessa Loring (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner), two people who've been trying for a baby for a long time.
What's so absolutely incredible about this movie is that it explores not what a 16-year-old knows about life, but what a 16-year-old doesn't know yet. Juno knows a lot about music and loves a good slasher movie, but her outlook on life is still quite naive. She even exclaims early on that she doesn't know what kind of girl she is.
What else is so great about this movie? It's funny. It's touching. And after it was over, I wanted to watch it again.
At first, the dialog threw me. I'm obviously officially old because I didn't understand half the things Juno and her best friend Leah (Olivia Thirlby) say in their first conversation. It reminded me of the first time I heard my brother talk to his friends. Are they speaking a foreign language? No, and when I caught on (pretty quickly, I might add), I found myself loving the odd phrases. (Especially when Juno exclaims "Thundercats are go!" Holy hell, that was HILARIOUS.)
Behind solid storytelling is an incredible cast. J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney are the parents of the year in my opinion. Jason Bateman is perfectly subtle while still being funny. And even though Michael Cera is simply playing Michael Cera, the characterization of himself fits the story so well I can't even fathom a complaint.
The stand-out roles definitely go to Ellen Page and Jennifer Garner. Everyone who's seen the movie talks about Ellen Page's Juno. She makes this pregnant teenager into someone for whom you'll never feel sorry. She's strong and scared all at the same time. She's smart and naive as well. Juno is a well-rounded character that just blossoms even more with Page's acting prowess.
Jennifer Garner's Vanessa starts out as a bit of a cardboard figure. She's got a perfect smile plastered on her face through the first act and part of the second, but then a great thing happens. Subtle remarks and actions start to break her perfection, and all of a sudden, Vanessa is a complex character with real feelings.
I know not everyone will love Juno, and that's okay. It's a lot of movie to swallow, but it's still a great small story that tugs on all the right strings.