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Movie Review: Juno

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Juneau is the capital city of Alaska. Juno is the Roman name for the queen of the Olympian gods who served as the goddess of women and childbirth. Juno is also the tale of a pregnant sixteen-year-old. Oddly enough, Jason Reitman’s Juno does not take place in Alaska.

After Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) drops her cherry-covered panties and has sex with her friend, Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera), she is faced with an unplanned pregnancy. Juno initially considers abortion, but later converts to the idea of giving the baby up for adoption.

When Juno discovers an endearing husband and wife’s picture in the local “Pennysaver,” she decides to meet the potential adoptive couple. At their meeting, Juno agrees to give Mark (Jason Bateman) and Vanessa Loring (Jennifer Garner) her child and opts for a closed adoption. However, as her trimesters progress, Juno learns more about Paulie, Mark, and Vanessa’s viewpoints, which impact the ultimate outcome.

Juno takes place over four seasons (autumn, winter, spring, and summer in that order). To think that this ordered progression is coincidental is laughable. Juno’s nine months with child plays out as follows: she descends in autumn, becomes cold in winter, and births a child in spring. What’s more, the movie ends right around the time that June could be the month on the calendar. June, the sixth month of the Gregorian calendar, is also named after the goddess Juno, wife of Jupiter and protector of marriage.

Diablo Cody’s script contains some of the freshest dialogue in years. With quotes like, “that [pregnancy test] ain’t no Etch-a-Sketch; this is one doodle that can’t be undid,” and the conversation about growing a mustache, Juno is hip and edgy. The very manner in which Juno speaks is intriguing and offbeat, and by placing the picture’s memorable lead into countless memorable situations, Juno is a production to cherish.

With its cartoon-scribbled credits and sweet indie charm, Juno is billed as a cross between Napoleon Dynamite and Little Miss Sunshine. In fact, a Jon Heder look-alike appears as one of Juno’s lab partners. And, while you won’t be seeing any dancing at the climax, Juno is much more deserving to take home multiple Oscars than last year’s overpraised Little Miss Sunshine.

What is most fascinating about Juno is watching the title character learn, grow, and develop into the kind of girl she wants to be. More than anything, Juno is about the longevity of relationships and upending the tradition of falling in love first then procreating. It models an unplanned pregnancy as a speed bump and a blessing in disguise. When Juno asks her father, “[Is it] possible that two people can stay happy together forever?” we want to hold her hand and convince her that it’s possible.

With nothing to complain about from Page, Cera, Garner, Bateman or otherwise, Juno proves to one of the best motion pictures that 2007 had to offer. Specifically, add Page’s pitch-perfect portrayal to an intelligently comedic script, and you arrive at the entertainingly real Juno. And best of all, “it started with a chair,” and “it ended with a chair.”

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About Brandon Valentine

  • It did strike me as better than Little Miss Sunshine and I hope more people take it in. The dialogue is the best that I’ve heard in a while.

  • I don’t think we can really compare this film to ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ just because both ended up the ‘indie’ pick in Oscar’s ‘Best Picture’ category. It is fair to say that ‘Juno’ benefits from the ground ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ broke the year before. Personally, I think Cody’s writing, hence Page’s character, tries too early on to arrest us with her smartness which surely is a contradiction for she wouldn’t have ended up pregnant. Once the character is allowed to just act her own age then it gets interesting and real. ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ was consistently brilliant in its dissection of the dysfunctional American family and lifestyle. No contest there, in my view.

  • The comparison starts and stops with the “indie Best Pic nom.”

    While I do agree with “Cody’s writing tries too early on to arrest us,” Juno is the better film.

  • “Juno is billed as a cross between Napoleon Dynamite and Little Miss Sunshine.”

    That is one lazy, unimaginative marketing department. ND was an absurd world that doesn’t compare with Juno’s other than they were both in high school. Other than being a low budget comedy there’s no comparison to LMS. If there had been a ten-year gap between films, people never would have made the association.

    “her smartness which surely is a contradiction for she wouldn’t have ended up pregnant.”

    So, smart people don’t have unplanned pregnancies?

  • The associations only exists…”with [Juno’s] cartoon-scribbled credits and sweet indie charm.” In my book, Juno is a few rungs higher on the ladder than both ND and LMS.

    As for the “smartness” that Neil references, this is another column in itself–debating intellect and the ability to make “wise” decisions.