Review: Juno (2007)

Juno is (nearly) everyone’s favorite pregnant teenager. Juno (played by Ellen Page) would be interesting at any age. She is weird but generally harmless, eclectic, smart, not a slave to fashion, pragmatic and able to talk to adults like she is their age. She is not smart enough not avoid some brainless moments, which of course led to her to have so-so unprotected intercourse with a fellow nerd boyfriend Paulie (Michael Cera). That took care of her virginity problem and satisfied her curiosity about sex, but what to do if, oops, you end up a little bit preggers?

For most girls her age she might be thrown out on the street, or living through her pregnancy at some church sponsored halfway house for wayward mothers. Juno though comes from if not a good family, then a decent family. Her father (J.K. Simmons) divorced and remarried, but his second wife Bren (Allison Janney) has her head on straight. When she spills the beans to Dad and stepmom they want to be supportive.

First decision: whether to abort the baby or carry it to term. Abortion in her state is easy to acquire, but a trip to the clinic leaves her with mixed feelings. Her friend shows her a penny saver press and points her to ads from infertile couples. Soon she is signing her baby away to a well moneyed couple in a McMansion, Vanessa and Mark. It turns out teenage pregnancy can be pretty straightforward if you are white. This makes it easy to find the right couple to pay all your expenses, provided you don’t mind feeling disenfranchised from your peers at high school when the pregnancy gets noticed. Paulie turns out to be a pretty decent guy but has no interest in being a father, just in running track.  Juno doesn’t want to be a mother either, but pragmatically suffers through a pregnancy.

In short, there is not a whole lot of suspense in Juno, other than her relationship with her child’s prospective adoptive father Mark (Jason Bateman) seems unusually close at times. Aside from a gap of twenty years of so, Mark and Juno seem very well matched. It turns out that Mark, a jingle writer, is not that in love with Vanessa and Juno’s arrival had him considering exiting the marriage. Given Vanessa’s obsession with all things babies perhaps his need to regress twenty years and live a single guy’s life in a loft apartment is understandable.

It turns out that the only character that is really interesting in the movie Juno is Juno herself, but this may be because Ellen Page makes the character so memorable that it is hard to see or appreciate the other characters. There could probably be a whole series of movies about Juno. This one, Juno does Pregnancy could be followed by Juno does College, Juno gets Married, Juno does Wall Street and eventually Juno moves into an Active Adult Retirement Community. She’s that interesting. And I’d probably take the time to go see all of them. But this Oscar-winning movie (for Best Screenplay by Diablo Cody) has little to recommend it otherwise. The plot itself has so little meat you might want to search for tastier fare. However, you won’t feel cheated by the movie’s lack of depth, just revel in enjoying a quirky and finally drawn character.

3.1 on my four-point scale.

[xrr rating=3.1/4]

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