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Faced with an unplanned pregnancy, an offbeat young woman makes an unusual and bizarre decision regarding her unborn child. Based on an original screenplay by newcomer Diablo Cody and the 2nd feature directorial film by Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking)
Watching a film premiere at a top film festival is like being in the stands at at a sold out college football game: you can't help but root for the home team because the buzz is so electric you can't help but be taken in by it. The director, writer and entire cast of stars is in attendance and photographs are flying across the sold out crowd of 1500+ who all seem to be big fans of the stars and will love them and the film no matter what.
JUNO is a comedy about a 16 year old girl who gets pregnant and decides a very mature solution to the situation. More films like these are needed as female driven teenage movies are very rare. So no matter the problems I have with the film, I still hope it succeeds.
There are a lot of great things in is film. The performances are top notch, especially the lead Ellen Page who is in every scene playing the pregnant teen and Jennifer Garner playing Vanessa, one half of the Yuppie couple who is going to adopt the baby after it's born. Garner takes a character who could easily be your stereotypical Suburban house wife and turns it into a very likeable wannabe mother who is always trying to do the right thing. Michael Cera playing the father of the baby is also terrific as he is an actor accumulating a great body of work at a very young age. I don't think I've ever seen a false moment in all of the roles he has played.
There are two problems I have in this otherwise fun film:
#1 - The opening credit scene that's filmed in animation seems more like a commercial for Sunny Delight than a themmatic setup to its film. In fact this opening credit scene is a bit jarring in retrospect as it really doesn't fit with the rest of the film.
#2 - The other more important problem I had was the most important relationship in the film between Juno and Mark, the adoptee father and husband of Vanessa played by Jason Bateman. Bateman is fine like usual but this relationship seemed to be playing nicely until a gigantic storytelling beat forced us to believe something completely different. Then the film goes in a different direction without any sort of setup to tell us. I was left a bit cheated because I wanted more between these characters.
The theme of this film is about enjoying the present time you're living because you can grow up very quickly and your dreams can fall by the wayside. Jason Bateman plays the character who wants to be a kid again and have a do over. He's smitten with Juno's energy and mutual love for music and is a bit upset with himself for selling out and living in the burbs. This is a thread that seemed to jump in and out of the film. And one of the problems is that things just seemed to come too easily for everyone. I guess that was maybe the point as Juno was always completely together is this otherwise stressful situation she's in for most people who would be in her shoes.
There really is no conflict in this film at all and the only thing that keeps you interested is the rich characters written and performed. But this could of been a great film that shows the world a terrific universal theme for all ages. Unfortunately I think the director loved his characters so much, he never wanted any of them to be hurt at all. So everything came easy for them. So I can't give this a high grade eventhough I really wanted to.