Olivia Thirlby (Juno)
Wood Harris (Remember The Titans)
Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
Domhall Gleeson (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Ellen Page (Super)
Michael Cera (Scott Pilgrim vs The World)
Jennifer Garner (Alias)
Jason Bateman (The Ex)
Allison Janney (Spy)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Olivia Thirlby (Dredd)
Eileen Pedde (Dar kAngel)
Rainn Wilson (The Office)
Emily Perkins (Ginger Snaps)
Candice King (The Vampire Diaries)
Eve Harlow (Heroes Reborn)
Emily Tennant (I, Robot)
Juno takes a thoughtful spin on an old cliché storyline revolving around unplanned parenthood. After spending a curious night together with her friend Paul Bleeker (Michael Cera, Superbad) in a big comfy chair a few months prior, Juno (Ellen Page, Hard Candy) discovers that she’s in for seven more months of paying for that mistake. Instead of slyly sneaking off to a clinic to change her pregnancy status, she has a change of heart and chooses to go through with the pregnancy. Instead of keeping the kid, however, Juno finds a picturesque, pseudo-surrogate family (Jason Bateman, Arrested Development, and Jennifer Garner, Alias) to adopt her and Bleeker’s child.
Reitman’s film, as sharply characteristic and biting as Thank You for Smoking, takes on the feel of a colorful mosaic as we follow through Juno’s remaining seven months of pregnancy. All the way through, she has plenty of support from her understated and supportive parents (J.K. Simmons, Spider-Man, and Allison Janney, 10 Things I Hate About You) and her loopy cheerleader friend Leah (Olivia Thirlby). Juno leads us through all the mundane occurrences, from ultrasounds to clothing modification, as well as through the more tongue-tied moments with her baby’s family-to-be. There’s a moment when Juno and her father meet with the adopting parents, and their lawyer, that’s priceless. It easily draws out and distinguishes the differences between the characters, both between the two families as well as the individual differences, and similarities, among all parties at the table.
Juno’s a great character narrative with exceedingly well-crafted personalities across the board, but the film’s impact hinges on the gallant performance from Ellen Page. It’s interesting to compare her talents here to her outstanding performance in Hard Candy, a ridiculously tense thriller about a renegade Little Red Riding Hood-esque figure with a penchant for revenge on a child molester. She’s an overwhelmingly talented satirist, especially at her age. Page’s Juno shares some interesting similarities to her Hard Candy character Haley Stark, points that echo through her quality as an actress. She can appear intelligent beyond her character’s years, while also latching firmly onto the age of the character with her mannerisms. Page doesn’t just sell maturity, she sells youthful maturity – meaning she can be both believably naïve and intelligent in the same breath.Ellen Page folds together with Diablo Cody’s wonderfully sharp script, the real star of the show, and crafts one of the most entertaining and touching films of the year. Cody’s pen handles different age groups in different ways, obviously, but she makes certain to keep a very even balance between quirk and sincerity. And, though it teeters along here and there, Juno’s still grin worthy even when it does lean a little over that line of absurdity. Most importantly, Juno’s barrage of one-liners and sarcastic swordfights between its characters can be downright hilarious in context.
It’s not just the scornful preggo hippie chick that gets to have all the fun, either; all of the fleshed characters have scathing humor written into their parts. As a matter of fact, some of the smaller character scenes, from Rainn Wilson’s little ignition of a one-liner to get the film started to Allison Janney’s lengthy reprimand on an ultrasound technician, provide some of the more memorable moments of the film. Where Juno really delivers a shot of believable impact, however, is within the maturing relationships between Juno and the adoptive parents – not as a cohesive unit, but as the individuals themselves. Juno, as a character, molds to each person that she interacts with in the film. As she states earlier in the film, she doesn’t really “know what kind of a girl” she is. Her character clearly grows throughout the film, which can be seen even through her steadfast and bull-headed charisma.
Juno’s a comically melancholy film, yet an attractive one to watch and listen to, as well. Jason Reitman’s directorial eyes and ears were obviously finely tuned during this production. His director of photography, Eric Steelberg, plays a major part in how great this film looks. He uses exaggerated color schemes, such as stark oranges and cold blues, to illustrate seasonal shifts that help pull us through the timeshifts in the narrative. There are a lot of quality details that he captures through his lens that gives Juno’s warm photography a lot of personality. When accompanied with the undertone lyrics from the assortment of indie music laced with Juno’s aesthetics, it keeps the film’s background as rhythmic and upbeat as the darting dialogue.