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Review of “Juno” (2007) PG-13 92min

December 16th, 2007 by Maxim · 4 Comments · 9,905 Views


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Juno (2007)*** WARNING: This review contains spoilers. ***

This is a funny, witty and sweet comedy from director of Thank you for smoking Jason Reitman and 29-year-old writer Diablo Cody.

The plot: Juno McGuff (Ellen Page) is a Mid-Western girl in high-school. One day she decided to have sex with her boyfriend Polly Bleeker (Michael Cera or Superbad). She soon explains that she did it out of boredom or curiosity, but late in the movie she figures out some things about herself and life that yield a different explanation. Alas, because of this encounter she got pregnant. Since she is only 16, with help of her best girl friend Leah (Olivia Thirlby) she decided to give up the baby for adoption and go on with her life. After browsing ads for adoption in the Pennysaver, Juno picks a seemingly nice, if not perfect, young childless couple, Mark and Vanessa (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner).

The good: Ellen Pages performance is Oscar-worthy. Just her facial expressions are worth an Oscar – you can read them like a book. The dialogs are so edgy and witty – they are just brilliant. You know, this could’ve been a yet another teenage pregnancy horror story like some TV series ala Gilmore Girls, but because of dialogs, music and situational comedy this movie is so sweet and moving. I loved the little animated pieces, especially the opening credits – the seemed like they are pages from a teenage girl’s diary. Truly it’s a brilliant idea: after all it’s a story of a teenage girl dealing with pregnancy – something she is clearly too young for: “So as you can see, I am ill equipped”, Juno says to Vanessa. Jennifer Garner also had several very moving scenes, especially in the mall when she was talking to Juno’s belly. This is a much deeper movie then Superbad. Probably because of this it’s not as funny and more personal drama, but very funny nevertheless. Some moments will make you laugh through tears: the most precious kind of laughter. A lot of jokes were about teenagers going through sex education and adolescence. Bateman also gave a great performance as Mark, a guy who may never be ready to become a father because his head is stuck in the clouds and delusions of grandeur. The songs by Matt (Mateo) Messina were a bit cheesy, but also sweetly naive – perfect for the movie.

** Spoiler** Juno is not some hormone driven mindless teenager who decided to have sex because there was nothing on TV – she is a very clever girl. The incident with Polly Bleeker, even though she wasn’t hung up on him – she couldn’t even explain: when she told her parents (Allison Janney and J.K. Simmons – remember him in Spiderman?) about her situation, her father said, “I didn’t think all of this could have happened to the kind of girl you are”, and Juno answered, “I don’t really know what kind of a girl I am”. And this is the key: she did it because it felt like a good idea at the time. Not because of boredom, as she initially explained, but because she had feelings for the guy she didn’t yet had a name for. It took nine months of pregnancy and delivery of the baby before she realized who she really is. **

The bad: the ending was a bit too cheesy, but by no means bad. It was pretty much in line with the style of the movie.

Verdict: one of the best movies of the year 2007 and one of the best comedies of the past 5 years.

Random notes:
- it’s nice to have parents as supportive as Juno’s. I honestly expected a scandal when she told them. Then, of course, it might have not been a comedy.
- Those orange shorts were hilarious.
- Juno (Ellen Page) looks, talks, behaves and even gestures like a girl I knew. I wonder if I should tell her that…
- definitely a similar style to Thank you for Smoking – nice job.

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Tags: Comedy · Drama · Movies · Romance

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4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Maxim // Dec 21, 2007 at 12:14 am

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    I’ve seen a similar opening credits sequence with similar music in Napoleon Dynamite.

  • 2 noise punk artist // Apr 20, 2008 at 8:30 am

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    juno=waste of time…. i think i want to go to business or law school now so i don’t ever come into contact with someone of such low stature. er i mean golly gee that movie was so hip and related to me. i’m just like her in so many ways…. so cute and related to my era…. wow i mean wow… (sarcasm dually noted!) brandon i’m sure this commercial of a film was meant for people like me but they could have summed it up in 30 seconds. and saved everyone’s time. i feel bad for the projections that had to spew this trash out of them. “retrospect” please use another phrase because this film deserved no such word greater than 4 letters. good day and great review!

  • 3 patrick // May 1, 2008 at 9:42 am

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    just rented Juno myself since it came out on DVD, liked it much, good balance of realism and humor

  • 4 Susu // Dec 28, 2014 at 4:07 pm

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    Juno MacGuff is a sarcastic, cynical, tomboyish teen played by Ellen Page in a fantastic, perfectly tuned performance. After sort-of-spontaneous (but not really) sex with her best friend, Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera of ‘Superbad’), Juno receives an unwanted package–a pregnancy. Woops.

    Juno decides to give her baby to an affluent couple, Mark and Vanessa Loring (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner). All seems well at first, but it will be a bumpy road until birth.

    I can spend hours gushing about how terrific a movie ‘Juno’ is, but I’m not really the greatest writer on the planet, so I’ll just express the fact that ‘Juno’ has a strange effect on you. After seeing it, I almost felt as if I would walk out of the theater and see Juno MacGuff just standing there, as if she were a regular living, breathing teenager. That’s how good Page is. In fact, every single performance in the film is absolutely tremendous. I liked how Allison Janney’s stepmom character isn’t turned into a whiny she-demon like most formula stepmoms, instead, she’s far more friendlier (if a little unsure of Juno’s odd ways) than we would ever expect. And J.K. Simmons finally gets a role where he isn’t a total jerk; instead, he’s a sensitive father who truly cares for his wacky daughter.

    The soundtrack is awesome, I’ll be buying it as soon as possible. The wait for the DVD will be truly agonizing, but worth it in the end. We can see the chain reactions here when a group of truly ambitious individuals (such as Jason Reitman, Diablo Cody, and Ellen Page) get together and make a movie such as this. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it.

    I give ‘Juno’ my highest recommendation possible.

    Sweeeeet, man.

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