Movie Review: Juno

JUNO stars Ellen Page as the title character, a whip-smart teen confronting an unplanned pregnancy by her classmate Bleeker (Michael Cera). With the help of her hot best friend Leah (Olivia Thirlby), Juno finds her unborn child a “perfect” set of parents: an affluent suburban couple, Mark and Vanessa (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner), longing to adopt. Luckily, Juno has the total support of her parents (JK Simmons and Allison Janney) as she faces some tough decisions, flirts with adulthood and ultimately figures out where she belongs.

Picture your high school’s smart alternative girl… now picture her pregnant.

There she goes talking about Sonic Youth, Gibson guitars and obscure Italian horror art house cinema; her hair over her left eye and her lips always a balmy red. Except now she’s sporting a bun in the oven under her American Apparel hoodie.

That’s exactly who Juno MacGuff, Ellen Page’s character is, and exactly what she talks about changing the pregnant teen portrayed in movies. Now young 16 year old pregnant girls have something more than the Lifetime Network’s made for TV movie, “Fifteen and Pregnant,” which starred a young Kirsten Dunst.

Juno MacGuff, 16, begins her foray into sex like many teenagers, with cherry panties, a hint of orange tick-tacs in the air, and her dorky best friend on an old brown recliner. The awkward romp leaves two characters sans virginity and with a pregnancy on their hands. But Juno decides to give the baby up for adoption and finds the “perfect” yuppie parents. Through her nine months of pregnancy she encounters rude comments from everyone including the assistant taking her baby’s sonogram. At school she earns the name the, “cautionary whale,” which she carries simultaneously with shame and humor.

“Juno,” features off the beat and path characters (including a gawky nerd teen boyfriend) set amongst high school drama slightly altered archetypes like the jocks and cheer leaders. The screen-writing in Juno, is fast and witty. Juno and her best friend contemplate her sweet and sour situation with hip-hop infused slang and analytical teen speak.

Jennifer Garner plays a baby-hungry adoptive mother like a badly cooked dish, or a Lifetime Network actress – overdone. She comes across like a more stable Charlotte from HBO’s Sex and the City. There’s plenty to dislike about Juno. The ridiculously unrealistic nature of some of the plot points, Juno’s overly dorky and non-existent father of the child (such a smart mouthed, cool and preconscious girl wouldn’t go out with a stick thin track star would she?) are undeniable.

Despite its moralistic overtones, and sappy moments, “Juno” could be 2007s “Royal Tenenbaums” (2001). Its intelligent characters, dependence on strange bits of comic relief in grim situations and indie soundtrack (featuring the Moldy Peaches, Cat Power and Antsy Pants) has the potential to be the coming of age movie for many current day teenagers just as Royal Tenenbaums was for many. If “Juno” never reaches the heights of artsy teen films as Tenebaums did, at least we know Ellen Page will certainly be the next new Indy darling like Chloe Sevigny , Evan Rachel Wood and Scarlett Johansson once where.

The movie transcends not only the teenage stereotypes typical in teen genre movies, but combines mainstream and indie elements for the next generation of young hipsters . The conventional plot arc aside, Juno is a light hearted movie that’s more about teenagers approaching bad situations intelligently – something that people of all ages can enjoy.

Review by Rebecca Carriero-Granados

Grade: B+
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