Juno – Movie Review. It’s Smart.

Weekend Movie ReviewIn Jason Reitman‘s smart, racy and delightful film, penned by Diablo Cody, Juno (Ellen Page) is a scrappy but sensitive teen girl who initiates sex with her male chum Paulie (Michael Cera) and afterwards gets big with child. She can’t bring herself to have an abortion but is too young to parent, so adoption is the only alternative.

The suitable adoptive parents Juno and her dad (J.K. Simmons) track down–at least they seem suitable–are prosperous Mark (Jason Bateman) and Vanessa (Jennifer Garner). The latter yearns to be a mother pitiably, and here the movie’s compassion kicks in. By noticing one day at the mall just how much Vanessa needs a baby, feisty Juno grows up a bit. And she continues to grow.

But there is trouble. Boyish Mark has yet to mature, and he and Vanessa are flatly mismatched. A current strain exists between Juno and Paulie, and although she has a good friend in Olivia Thirlby’s Leah, Juno’s loneliness and isolation as a pregnant teen moves her to dangerously flirt with Mark–until she comes to her senses. But what of Mark and Vanessa’s marriage?

As it turns out, “Juno” endorses family values, but not without reminding us of the painful messiness of life and human nature. There is not a single sign that the film believes in social liberalism, but neither is it unaware of the sad etiolation and disintegration in human existence. In the end, it smiles too much on teenage love; it has a Whit Stillman-like optimism. Even so, the whole is as dandy as its parts, for “Juno” is original-screenplay tragicomedy practically at its best.

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