Jan 232008
Authors: Jeff Schwartz

I have a general rule of not reviewing a movie until after it has been out for more than two or three weeks, since, by then, just about anyone who would be interested in seeing the movie has already seen it.

But I’m making an exception in the case of “Juno”, because it is a word-of-mouth film that thrives due to the persistent recommendations from friends and family.

So, now I’m going to take a stab at persuading all you stragglers who haven’t seen the movie that you need to do so. In fact, I advise all of you who haven’t seen “Juno” to stop reading this review and go see it now. Ditch class, neglect work, family, friends – do whatever you have to, but go see this movie. It’s that good.

For those of you who have avoided seeing “Juno” because you hate the idea of another “pregnant teenager movie,” you needn’t be worried. The script by Diablo Cody handles the by-now-stereotypical premise with grace and witty aplomb.

Juno Maguff (Ellen Page) is a 16-year-old girl who gets pregnant after having sex with her best friend Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera, of “Superbad” fame). Initially, Juno does not want to keep the baby, and she calls a clinic called Women Now to, in her words, “procure a hasty abortion.”

But after her visit to the clinic leaves her unsettled, she decides, with the help of her best friend Leah (Olivia Thirlby), to give her unborn baby up for adoption to the seemingly perfect suburban couple Mark and Vanessa Loring (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner).

“Juno,” however, is so much more than the bare-bones summary I’ve just provided. The amazing thing about the film is how it subtly evolves from an irreverent comedy into a moving look at meaningful relationships.

Ellen Page’s performance as Juno is something to behold. Juno is an utterly unique creation – whip-smart, hip and savvy about things well beyond her years.

And yet, Page manages to instill Juno with a realistic center, so that, despite her inherent quirkiness, she never seems like a fictional character. This is a performance worthy of any and every cinematic accolade.

Even though the film inarguably belongs to Page, “Juno” boasts tender and hilarious performances from all its players. Jennifer Garner gives a beautiful and restrained performance as the adoptive mother of Juno’s child.

And then there’s Allison Janney, who plays Juno’s stepmom Deb, in a role that features some of the funniest and most cutting lines in the movie (the scene where Deb tells off a smug ultrasound technician is classic).

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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