Juno is just the type of hipster, slangy comedy that will be a huge cult hit and inevitably get a backlash as it gets more and more adored (see Napoleon Dynamite). These kinds of films come along so rarely, that I’m happy to wholeheartedly embrace it, even though I’m sure that I (along with everyone else that disdains the inevitable Hype Machine) will eventually get tired of all the praise flung its way.
Juno is about a smart-alecky teenage girl (the fabulously witty and droll Ellen Page) who is unusually-named after a Greek goddess, not the Alaskan town (as she needs to explain). Juno is also pregnant due to a fling with her best friend, the soft-spoken, nerdy-but-sweet Paulie Bleeker (played perfectly by the soft-spoken, nerdy-but-sweet Michael Cera). They are as surprised by the pregnancy as anyone else, but Juno’s dad (the wonderfully warm J.K. Simmons) and step-mom (the wonderfully sharp-tongued Allison Janney) begrudgingly accept Juno’s decision to carry the baby to term and put it up for adoption.
She finds adoptive parents (via an ad in the local Penny Saver) in Vanessa (Jennifer Garner) and Mark (Jason Bateman), a clean-cut yuppie couple that live out in the suburbs in their perfect house. They are a little startled by Juno’s crass, yet open honesty, but they can’t believe their luck that Juno wants to hand the baby over in as uncomplicated manner as possible. As the baby is carried to term, the dynamics of the situation evolve, and things don’t end up quite as cleanly as they all had originally planned.
What makes Juno a hoot is the crazy, slangy script by hot young screenwriter Diablo Cody (who also wrote a hoot of a book called Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper). What starts out as a one-liner fest of quotable gems surprisingly becomes an effective and touching story of a motley group of misfits. Folks initially introduced as laughable caricatures actually are developed into three-dimensional characters that you grow to love. And darn it if I didn’t get all choked up and teary at the end.
They say that drama is tough, but comedy is even tougher. Juno gets the balance right, and gives you a memorable and funny story that is sweeter and more touching than you’d ever expect.