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DIRECTOR: Jason Reitman RELEASE DATE: December 25, 2007 RATING: PG-13
CAST: Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, et al.
// review by Jeff

Juno what? It's not bad!

Every once in a while, it's probably a good idea to go with your girlfriend or stuffed emu to the movies and catch a flick that doesn't involve excessive rapid-fire violence or mindless attempts at comedy (I'm looking at you, Wayans Bros.!). There must be another style of film, one that can enjoyed with a sense of relaxation. No, I'm not talking about that dusty yoga VHS in your mom's closet; I'm talking about the so-called "chick flicks". I admittedly went to see one. Willingly. It was the best thing showing, unless I wanted to see the newest entry in the Rambo series. And let's face it: Sylvester Stallone is getting too old for explosion nonsense. We went to see "Juno", which is sort of a chick flick. Maybe not a full-blown one, but there's some chick-flickery hiding in there somewhere.

One of the interesting aspects of this movie is how much of a plot there ISN'T. Amazingly enough, they managed to stretch a very thin plotline into an hour and a half. The basic rundown of the movie is as follows: a high school girl, Juno MacGuff, gets pregnant after having sex with one of the members of the school's cross-country team members, Paulie Bleeker. Instead of wanting to keep the baby, she opts (without consulting the father -- gasp!) to have the baby become adopted by more suitable parents (which she finds, for some strange reason, in the local classified ads). She eventually finds a nice couple and forms a legal agreement to give them the baby after childbirth. Over time, however, the couple's marriage fails (in the third trimester, no less!) and Juno is forced to make a quick resolve. In the end, the still assertive wife decides to raise the baby on her own; Juno and Bleeker commence their new relationship.

The film comes off with an indie vibe in mind, and to that extent, it succeeds. "Juno" isn't the sort of movie that sells itself on its own glamour by any means. With only a budget of $2.5 million, you can't expect any fancy special effects or absolutely extravagant scenery. Furthermore, with the exception of appearances by popular actors Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman, there is an all-star cast of generally unknowns. Sometimes it takes a bunch of actors nobody has ever heard of to create a believable cinematic experience. This would not have been as decent as film as it was had the likes of Tom Cruise or Hannah Montana graced the silver screen. Ellen Page, who just happens to fit the 20-year-old-who-looks-like-a-16-year-old image, also happens to fit the snarky pregnant girl image. Delivering a convincing profile of a girl who sports a nasty outdated yet still hip lingo lexicon, Ellen Page as Juno MacGuff portrays well the joys and the sarcastic fears of her character. (Wasn't she nominated for awards relating to this? Hmmm...) The rest of the cast supports her well. Yes, even Jennifer Garner, whom I am not particularly a fan of. She's especially frightening in "Juno" though; I know her character is supposed to be that of an obnoxious, overbearing perfectionist and control freak, but sheesh, she seemed to be packing the traits on a little strong. But hey, nothing dictates a fun movie like a cameo by Rainn Wilson from "The Office" as a snarky convenience store clerk who refers to Juno as "homeskillet". Nobody calls ME "homeskillet" anymore...

Scenery is pittoresque but typical of the situations that Juno faces; there are no outstanding locales to be found. Juno's neighbourhood through the seasons, her lower-middle-class house and the local high school are among the more common scenarios here, and they look pretty much like real places. Nothing special, I guess. The music in the film is average alternative indie music that the main character would listen to. Even though I'm not really into that scene, I suppose the tunage was harmless. Songs are included from bands like Belle And Sebastian and The Moldy Peaches, neither of which I know anything about. What am I trying to say here? I guess the bottom line is that nothing in particular stands out visually or aurally. But I guess a good script is what makes a good movie, right?

And the script itself is solid enough to warrant positive laudes. Most characters are believable with only minor occasions of exception. If nothing else, it is indeed the characters that will lure you into the movie and surround you with that special warmth that only a "chick flick" can provide. To summarize, Juno is certainly a film worth seeing with your significant other. I initially had my doubts about such movies, but this one actually didn't fail me. It also taught me a few things about pregnancy, knowledge that I can probably use somewhere down the road. It's a movie acceptable for most age groups, but you may want to be out of your stroller before catching this one.


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