Juno (2007) Directed by Jason Reitman. With Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner, Allison Janney, J.K. Simmons and Olivia Thirlby.
Directed by Jason Reitman, with an Academy Award winning screenplay by Diablo Cody, Juno positively hops, skips and jumps through it’s ninety-six minute running time. There set-up is simple. A sixteen year old girl becomes pregnant against her wishes and swerves abortion in favour of finding suitable surrogate parents.
Ellen Page plays the title character, giving a witty performance that makes her an enduring joy throughout. Given the way most of us feel about know-it-all teenagers, a group that Juno definitely belongs to, it’s an all the more remarkable achievement that Page disarms us as easily as she does. The strength of Cody’s writing means that each character, however peripheral, is given leading-role lines. For example, as Juno’s father and step-mother, take J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney. It’s not hard to imagine a spin-off film or TV series about them, such is the richness and depth on display.
It isn’t just about performances and writing though. As has become more the case with Reitman’s work, music plays a part in the appeal. Dare I say, Juno is playfully cute. Despite it’s awkward theme, it’s somehow impossibly sweet natured, with an emphasis on promoting individualism, painting the ‘cool kids’ as life’s real losers.
From its beautiful, rotoscoped opening-title sequence, to a final scene, gentle lens pull-out, Juno is cleverly crafted comedy/drama. While it might skip over the harsh realities of such a situation, it’s nevertheless a funny and engaging indie offering, with the best of intentions. 4/5