Juno (Fox Searchlight, PG-13)

film_juno_sm.jpgWhat’s important here is that I love it—love love love it—and you should too, you chip-on-your-shoulder-having bastard.








Reviewing Juno right now is facing me with a problem that I’ve never had as a film reviewer before—I absolutely love the film, but am wary of giving it a glowing review (or any press at all, for that matter), because it has been so overhyped since its premiere at Toronto in September that the backlash began before the movie even came out. Too many film festival screenings (I saw it for the first time at SLIFF in November), too many promo screenings, too many interviews with wunderkind first-time screenwriter Diablo Cody (who admittedly wrote a great script here, but who comes off like an idiot in interviews). Sure, it’s going to make a ton of money and get more great reviews, and I bet that Cody’s screenplay will win an Oscar when the time comes (plus nominations for maybe Ellen Page and Jennifer Garner or even director Jason Reitman), and I bet that, in a general sense, with most of the hipsters-in-training floating around in the world right now it will become trendy to like this movie, but I’m afraid (no, make that sure) that it’s going to become trendy to dislike this film if you’re a film snob, which is generally the circle that I run with.

But wait, what’s more important here is that I love it—love love love it—and you should too, you chip-on-your-shoulder-having bastard. If you’re unfamiliar with the plot at this point, it’s about a sassy 16-year-old girl named Juno MacGuff (all of the characters have weird names! what a good reason to hate it!) who gets impregnated by her usually platonic best friend Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera, who, as blasphemous as it may seem to say this, seems better suited to this role than he did to George Michael) the first time she has sex. She decides to keep the baby and give it to a loving, married couple who can’t conceive, Vanessa and Mark Loring (Garner and Jason Bateman). Pretty much the rest of the film deals with being a pregnant teenager, or maybe just being a teenager, period.

One of the biggest things working against Juno aside from the hype is that its first third or so is pretty weak; it just feels like it’s trying too hard. The dialogue is too mannered, some of the scenes are too forced (I’m not a fan of the film’s framing device); it just feels too much like it’s trying to be cool, which is what everyone is probably pretty much expecting, I’m afraid. But once it gets going, it hits both comedic and emotional heights not seen in any other movie this year, and is completely worth sticking with.

Sure, I’ve spent nearly all of this review asking you, the potential viewer, to not be reactionary about the whole thing, see the film on face value, and not base your opinion on what you heard about the movie going in. It isn’t lost on me that I’m being proactionary (is that even a word?) about trying to get you to not be reactionary, which is maybe just as bad. At this point, I’m more or less inventing this whole debate about the film’s merits; God knows Juno has yet to see much in the way of real criticism. Regardless, the point is, see it with an open mind, and you will be rewarded greatly. | Pete Timmermann

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