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1/19/08

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I'm writing this after the Academy Awards, even though I saw the film about a month before. (Yeah, I'm way behind.) I'm glad that all it won is Best Screenplay, I think Diablo Cody has a fresh new voice, so it was somewhat deserved. But I would have been seriously pissed if it had won best picture, I was mad that it was even nominated. Sure it's a cute little film, but it's not mind-blowing. What I'm worried about is all the Juno clones we can expect in the next few years; sassy girls, speaking hip, through some life changing situation.

All that aside, I enjoyed the film. I loved the cast. Ellen Page is amazing as Juno, she takes these mouthfuls of hipster dialogue and makes them seem natural; I really can't imagine another actress in the role. She's an amazing new talent. (Also see her in Hard Candy.) I've enjoyed Michael Cera since Arrested Development, though he's stuck in the so-nerdy-he's-cool roles, he pulls them off well. Jason Bateman and Jennifer Gardner are both wonderful as the adoptive parents; I was especially surprised by Jennifer, she showed a lot of range, and sensitivity that I didn't realize she was capable of. J.K. Simmons was a stand-out as Juno's father, it was great to see a supportive father, even though his little girl has done something very wrong.

The film is really well directed by Jason Reitman, who with this and 2005's excellent Thank You For Smoking steps out from under his father's shadow. He's now a director to watch for. It's reported he's working on another film with writer Diablo Cody. There's been a lot of hype about Diablo; how she's gone from stripper, to blogger, to Oscar winning screenwriter. I can't name the writer on 9 out of 10 films, and with her first film she's become a Hollywood star; it's all too much too soon, and it'll be all downhill for her from here. But she has my attention, I hope that she can keep up the good work and not get jaded or burnt out.

As if you didn't know, Juno is about a teenage girl getting pregnant, deciding to keep the baby, and give it up for adoption to a local couple she finds in the classifieds. This is Lifetime Network territory, but it's the way it's all handled is what makes it fresh. The film gracefully walks the line between real-life drama and hipster comedy; one minute you're laughing hysterically, the next you're tore-up inside as Juno must make another big decision. Everything about the film, from the opening animation, to the cooler-than-thou dialogue, to the hamburger phone, to the sensitive-emo-rock soundtrack scream "look at me!", but somehow they keep it low-key enough for us to relate.


Honestly in almost any other situation the film wouldn't work. I've seen a hundred other films that try very similar things, but don't hit on all cylinders the way Juno does. It's one of those magical films, that lucks into getting just about everything right. I enjoyed it more than last year's version: Little Miss Sunshine, but I'd put it lower than Rushmore and Election, which also dabbled in the highly stylized, cool-teen-nerd territory. I don't think it deserved the avalanche of attention it's gathered, but it's a nice little film, that just about anybody can enjoy; which is saying something.

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