What hath “Napoleon Dynamite” wrought? Well, if you’re like me and enjoy smaller, more independent films (whatever “independent” means these days), then you’ll generally enjoy the quirky, offbeat nature of these movies. The characters aren’t as weird in this, however.
But “Juno” is clearly born of that ilk, and may even owe much of its existence to “Dynamite”, but we’ll let the film snobs debate that. I’m just a guy that likes movies. Sometimes I like ones that stray off the beaten path.
“Juno” is the name of the main character; a 16-year-old girl that soon finds herself pregnant after having sex with Paulie, her best friend. She decides to give the baby up for adoption and finds a fine couple in the Penny Saver. The movie is about Juno’s process of being pregnant, dealing with her feelings about Paulie, and much of what a 16 year old girl might deal with being pregnant in school.
The first 15-20 minutes feel a little forced; not so much the acting but the dialogue. There is a scene with a flurry of Internet slang that may not make sense to those not tech savvy, and then it never happens again. It’s not terrible, it just feels obvious. It’s like someone was trying to prove something with their “Net savvy lingo”. Not too surprising, I suppose, seeing as the writer of the film is a “discovered” blogger and ex-stripper, Diablo Cody. (just go look up the word “blogger”) I don’t know if it was a sort of a signature, an inside joke or a form of bragging; “Hey, I’m a member of the blogosphere!” Whatever.
After that, the movie is great. It’s really funny. Chock full o’ wit. I laughed out loud often, as did most of the audience. Juno, played by Ellen Page, is sharp and likeable, despite being a bit of a smart-ass. But she is clearly a person not certain of herself and how life works. Basically a 16 year old. (I’ve been trying to remember where I’ve seen her before, and I just did- she was the girl in the movie “Hard Candy”. That’s a good movie. You should see that, too.)
Michael Cera plays Paulie, her best friend and father of her baby. You know him from “Superbad”, and “Arrested Development”, and he is sweet and bland in the most perfect way here. J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney play Juno’s father and stepmother. They have a funny scene right after Juno tells them she’s pregnant. J.K. Simmons is a great character actor. He’s been in lots of stuff; I’m sure you’ll recognize him when you see him. Off the top of my head, he played a psychologist in the TV show “Law And Order”. I see him around town sometimes when I’m out having drinks. I always forget his name, but not anymore. Ok, pardon the non-sequiter.
Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner play the adoptive parents. Both great, Garner in particular as a woman desperate to be a mother. Actually, everybody is great in this movie. It’s really funny and sweet. I highly recommend it.
Until next time, this is Neil, your average movie-goer. See ya in line for popcorn! Or Goobers! I love Goobers.