When people rave about a quirky independent comedy, I always worry a little. Is the movie really that good, or are people afraid to say they don’t like it for fear of being seen as uncool or unsophisticated? Because let’s face it, not every independent movie is good. Some are downright boring. But because they aren’t made by the established Hollywood studios, independent movies are seen by a certain set of people as being automatically amazing. Then more and more people jump on the bandwagon and suddenly this independent movie is the best movie ever made, according to popular opinion. And then I watch it and I have no clue what everyone sees in it. (Sorry for the tirade. I just hate pretentious people.) Anyway, that wasn’t the case with Juno. It’s a fun, funny, enjoyable movie–and I’m not just saying that to please the hipsters.
So what’s the story? Sixteen-year-old Juno has sex for the first time with her best friend/unacknowledged crush Paulie Bleekman and ends up pregnant. She goes to get an abortion, but just can’t do it. She decides to put the baby up for adoption. She looks for potential adoptive parents in the Penny Saver ads and finds Vanessa and Mark, a seemingly perfect couple. Juno hits it off with Mark right away, but has a harder time connecting to the worried, perfectionist Vanessa. But there are many surprises in store for everyone during Juno’s pregnancy.
The Good: I like the cast. Ellen Page makes a very believable sixteen-year-old who’s trying to figure out life. Michael Cera is at his awkward best as Paulie Bleekman. Jennifer Garner is delightful as uptight Vanessa. Jason Bateman captures just the right attitude as Mark, the man who’s not ready to grow up. Allison Janney is Bren, Juno’s dog-obsessed stepmom who is still unsure of her relationship with Juno, but is willing to support her to the end. I decided I wanted to be friends with J.K. Simmons when he wore a fedora to the Oscars this year; Juno makes me want to be his friend even more. As Juno’s dad, he’s a little rough around the edges, but he loves his daughter and will do anything for her. So yeah. The cast was awesome.
I liked the music, too. I like happy acoustic guitar music. Does that make me a hipster? Ugh! I am having so many mixed feelings about liking anything about this movie.
The screenplay was excellent. Diablo Cody managed to make the viewer like Mark and hate Vanessa at first and then slowly reverse position. That was very clever. There were a lot of good, funny lines, too. Very well done all around.
The Bad: Leah didn’t fit in the movie. She was funny, and the actress was good, but the friendship didn’t feel real. In my experience, cheerleaders aren’t BFFs with quirky, semi-loner musicians.
The Ugly: I didn’t find any in Juno. There were some awkward moments, but awkwardness is a part of adolescence. Juno herself was a little more clever and self-confident than most high school juniors I’ve met, but it’s a movie.
Oscar Won: Best writing, original screenplay.
Other Oscar Nominations: Best motion picture of the year; best performance by an actress in a leading role (Ellen Page); best achievement in directing.