Combustible Celluloid
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With: Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Allison Janney, J.K. Simmons, Olivia Thirlby, Eileen Pedde, Rainn Wilson, Daniel Clark, Darla Vandenbossche, Aman Johal, Valerie Tian, Emily Perkins, Kaaren de Zilva, Sierra Pitkin
Written by: Diablo Cody
Directed by: Jason Reitman
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material, sexual content and language
Running Time: 92
Date: 09/01/2007

Juno (2007)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Witty Baby

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The first thing you notice about Juno is the sparkling dialogue, sprinkled with liberal uses of slang and perky sentence construction. It's a joy to listen to, and novice screenwriter Diablo Cody (great name, that) is already getting the red carpet treatment in Hollywood. Likewise, her characters spring to emotional life, and they seem perfectly matched to the corresponding actors. It's so much fun that it's easy to overlook the film's rather conventional plot arc, and its vague similarity to both Knocked Up and Waitress. Ellen Page stars as the title character, a teen punk rocker, who ends up pregnant by her friend, a track jock, Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera). Juno opts to carry the baby through to term and give it up for adoption. She chooses for the adoptive parents the Lorings, Vanessa (Jennifer Garner) and Mark (Jason Bateman), who live in a spotless, expensive house. She bonds with Mark, a former punk rocker now writing jingles. Even Juno's parents, her father (J.K. Simmons) and stepmother (Allison Janney) get some real time to develop, rather than simply existing for ridicule purposes. Director Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking) keeps things brisk, occasionally employing cutesy visual flourishes that mostly work; it reminded me a bit of Heathers (1989), and if it doesn't get too much Oscar hype, it could be a future cult favorite.

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