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  Publicity Stills of "Juno"
(Courtesy from GV)

Genre: Drama/Comedy
Director: Jason Reitman
Cast: Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Allison Janney, J.K. Simmons, Olivia Thirlby, Rainn Wilson, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner
RunTime: 1 hr 35 mins
Released By: GV
Rating: NC-16
Official Website: http://www.foxsearchlight.com/juno

Opening Day: 14 Feb 2008



"Juno" stars Ellen Page as the title character, a whip-smart teen confronting an unplanned pregnancy by her classmate Bleeker (Cera). With the help of her hot best friend Leah (Thirlby), Juno finds her unborn child a "perfect" set of parents: an affluent suburban couple, Mark and Vanessa (Bateman and Garner), longing to adopt. Luckily, Juno has the total support of her parents (Simmons and Janney) as she faces some tough decisions, flirts with adulthood and ultimately figures out where she belongs.

Movie Review:

Somehow, teen pregnancy doesn't get any more funky than this. Yes, I may get some flak from those on the morally higher ground for making that statement, but truth is, Juno doesn't really cast a glaring eye at teenage unprotected sex or having a sixteen year old getting knocked up. Instead, writer Diablo Cody weaves a very upbeat, refreshing tale that's high on the hip factor, with very candid, lovable characters who bring life to a very strong, moving story.

Ellen Page deserves her Oscar nomination for her role as Juno MacGuff, the teenager who possesses an extremely quick wit, with an uber-cool attitude to boot. Leaving her cherry-patterned panties on the floor and getting it on with male friend Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cara, last seen in Superbad), we discover and confirm, together with her, when she purchases yet another self-test pregnancy kit, that for that moment of pleasure, it's nine months of inconvenience coming her way. Naturally, she's not prepared for motherhood, and for the first half hour, it's almost laughs galore at Juno's expense as she struggles to understand the looming consequences ranging from informing her parents, to handling the strange stares she gets as her tummy gets larger.

More urgent of course, after deciding that she is no mother material, it's the classified ads to the rescue in looking for adoptive parents to give her child away to. And it's not long that we get introduced to rich yuppie but barren couple in the form of the Mark and Vanessa Loring, played by Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner respectively, to whom Juno agrees in principle to be the surrogate child bearer to, after an intense screening session where both parties size up the other to assess if they all do click.

Director Jason Reitman crafts Juno with fantastic razor sharp dialogue and barbs, with retorts so fast, you'd probably need a double take at some of the lines thrown about with wicked glee, or watch the movie again to appreciate the in-jokes that whizz by too fast and too furious. And the conversational pieces proved to be the many gems that glitter in the movie, with its multitude of pop culture and references infused, a field day especially for those familiar with the plethora of great sounding music that make up the soundtrack of the movie. In fact, I think Ellen Page and Juno will bring about a slew of new vocabulary into the subconscious of teenagers who watch this movie, just as how Alicia Silverstone and Clueless did back in the year 1995, only that Clueless was a little more fluff in the usual chick flick mold, while Juno is the more mature movie dealing with more grown-up, and real themes.

Curiously, Juno doesn't pass judgement on teen sex or pregnancy that a typical souless movie will probably want to dwell on. In fact, it readies its prepared speeches and unleashes its take on general societal disapproval in many memorable scenes (the one in the ultrasound clinic takes the cake), and reminds all that the bringing of new life to the world (ok, if done in the right context with responsibility and all) is something that's beautiful when shared with the person you love. What it takes a long hard look at, is the meaning of relationships, how sometimes it becomes fleeting and temporal unfortunately without one's conscious knowledge until it's too late, how love can blossom from the strangest of situations, whether in the right or wrong circumstance, and of course, the bedrock of unconditional love that parents give to their offspring.

The supporting cast of J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney as Juno's parents bring about some poignant moments in the movie, and I almost shed a tear when they provide words of wisdom and counsel to their street-smart kid. I guess such advise sometimes ring a bell, either when their words echo similar sentiments that we hear from our own folks, or serve as some form of perfect hindsight when they mirror experiences that we have gone through.

There is no doubt why Juno, which opened in limited screens in the US, is slowly expanding into more screens and has crept pass the US$100 million mark, because of its pedigree now proven. It deserves every nomination it garnered in the upcoming Oscar awards, and quite frankly, you'll find yourself being very hard pressed to not enjoy your time in Junoverse!

Movie Rating:

(Juno rocks, like, totally! You go, girl!)

Review by Stefan Shih


. Superbad (2007)

. Knocked Up (2007)

. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

. Havoc (2006)

. Hard Candy (2005)

. Thank You For Smoking (2005)

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