Not many movies from the past decade are as hilarious and emotional as Juno. With an outstanding cast, strong story, and superb writing, it was bound to become a coming-of-age classic. To anyone who hasn’t gotten around to seeing this sensational film yet: Move it to the top of your “must-see” list.
Juno follows Ellen Page’s titular character through her teen pregnancy, and all the drama surrounding it. Juno is supported by her friend Leah (Olivia Thirlby), her father Mac (J.K. Simmons), and her stepmother Janney (Allison Janney) on her journey to find the right family (Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman) for her unborn child. During Juno’s journey there’s some great humor, lots of love, a bit of heartache, a couple blue slushies, and a whole bunch of growing up.
In my opinion, this movie only works so brilliantly because of Ellen Page. Juno could’ve easily fallen flat with a lesser actress in the starring role, and thankfully it didn’t because of Page’s immense talent. It’s really hard to walk that fine line between a bratty teen and a young adult who still has a lot to learn, but Page is darn near perfect. She absolutely nails every joyous moment, heart-wrenching revelation, and sarcastic jab.
Speaking of sarcastic jabs, Juno has some of the best lines in any movie I’ve seen to date. When coupled with precision timing from the likes of Page, Simmons, Janney, and Rainn Wilson (who has a small role, and one of the funniest lines in the film), we are treated to quite a few truly hysterical scenes. And the emotional beats have the same level of energy behind them as well. Major kudos to Jason Reitman for his magnificent direction, and Diablo Cody for his genius writing.
While I believe Juno owes most of its success to its star, I also believe it’s elevated to true greatness by the supporting cast. J.K. Simmons shines as a gruff, but ultimately loving and understanding father. He also has a bit of dialogue about love that is both unbelievably funny, and undeniably true.
Along with Simmons and Page, Jason Bateman is at his finest in Juno as the soon-to-be adoptive father of Juno’s baby. The scenes he and Page have together are some of the most powerful in the film, especially in the back half. I wish I could delve further into it, but it’s best left unsaid until you’ve seen for yourself.
Michael Cera is terrific as well while portraying the biological father of Juno’s child, and ditto for Olivia Thirlby as Juno’s best friend. While I wish the two of them were given more to do, they used what time they had to great effect.
To me, the only weak link in the entire movie was Jennifer Garner’s character. I don’t think she could’ve done anything to change my mind with the lines and scenes she had, but the connection between her character, the possible adoptive mother, and Juno felt unearned. In all honestly, I’m probably nitpicking though because Garner’s performance was still rock solid.
Aside from that very minor issue, Juno is a genuinely amazing movie. The humor, drama, and most of the character development are among the best I’ve seen in a very, very long time. It’s quirky, emotional, darkly humorous, and has just a touch of angst. That’s kinda like the life of a teenager, huh?