Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Written by Hombre Divertido
Writer Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman try far too hard to make this simple story seem like an avant-garde independent film from its quirky animated opening credits to its eclectic sound-track; their efforts are simply too obvious. It’s full of characters that aren’t as developed as they could be, and dialog filled with witty banter that will leave you wondering what you have gotten yourself into in the first fifteen minutes of the film. Luckily the dialog settles to a more realistic level while the performances reach new heights of talent and skill. The performances are what carry this film and inevitably endear the audience to this brilliant cast.
With Ellen Page channeling a young Linda Cardellini from her days on Freaks and Geeks, she gives a solid performance as the quick witted Juno who, along with the majority of the rest of her family and friends, deals amazingly well with the unplanned pregnancy and planned adoption of the child fathered by Juno's friend Bleeker, played by an underutilized Michael Cera. Juno seems to have something interesting to say no matter what the situation, but as the movie progresses you are left to wonder if she is really that much smarter than everyone else, or just too emotionally guarded and immature to deal with the situation in which she has found herself.
With the help of her best friend Leah, played spot-on by Olivia Thirlby, Juno manages to find in the Pennysaver, the perfect couple to adopt her baby. After breaking the news of the impending arrival to her father (J.K. Simmons) and step-mother (Allison Janney), she heads out to meet said couple: Mark and Vanessa (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner) accompanied by her incredibly understanding father.
There are predictable aspects to this film, such as the note for Mark and Vanessa left by Juno that is not shown to the audience when it is read, only to be shown at a more significant time later in the film, but like most successful movies, it leaves you wanting more. When Juno comes to realize that it is truly Bleeker she wants, you may be left to wonder where said feelings have been hiding, and want to see more of their relationship. By the same token we are left to wonder what Mark's (Jason Bateman) true motivation was for seeking a divorce from Vanessa (Jennifer Garner) and are left wanting more depth to that aspect of the story as well. From a positive perspective we are left wanting more of these people. This cast is amazing and delivers wonderful performances from start to finish. Janney does an amazing job with a limited role as she steals every scene she is in with a subtle portrayal that is worthy of award consideration.
Though some may be bothered by the casual way that such an important issue is dealt with, you can’t help but find favor with this endeavor regardless of which side of said issue you stand on. That in itself is a huge accomplishment.
Recommendation: A simple story filled with performances that should not be missed. This is the type of movie you will want to watch more than once, so see it first on the big screen with the whole family.