I finally got around to watching Juno this week. No wonder it won so many awards. It really is a sweet film.
If you've been living under a rock, the movie tells the story of Juno (played exquisitely by Ellen Page), a 16-year-old girl who gets pregnant. At first, Juno tries to arrange a "hasty abortion," but she finds that she can't go through with it. Then, deciding to give the baby up for adoption, she looks through a local Penny Saver and finds the perfect couple in search of a baby - Vanessa (Jennifer Garner in a pitch-perfect, heartbreaking turn) and Mark (Jason Bateman, dead-on as always). Juno meets with the couple and makes all the necessary plans to have them adopt the baby. She feels secure in the knowledge that these two people will give her baby the perfect life.
But when Juno begins to notice the cracks in her dream of perfection, she begins doubting everything - love, the ability of a couple of stay together, her choice to give her baby up, and her own feelings for Bleeker (Micheal Cera), the baby's father.
There are NO bad performances in this movie. Even the small parts are rendered with reality and depth of thought. J.K. Simmons is wonderful as Juno's dad, and ditto for Alison Janney as her stepmom. It's really an ensemble piece, with the four principles - Page, Garner, Bateman, and Cera - doing most of the heavy lifting. Page shines, delivering the types of lines you've never heard ANYONE really say with amazing credibility.
And, a note - in most movies, scenes that are the least bit tense are far overblown for "dramatic" value. Chracters cry, scream, storm off, do a bunch of stupid stuff. And I don't doubt that there are some people who handle stressful situations that way. But there are plenty of us who try to maintain some shred of self-control and attempt to make the best of the hand we are dealt. This movie is about people like that. When Juno tells her parents she's pregnant, there's no histrionic fall-out. Sure, they are disappointed. Sure, they let her know that. She's disappointed in herself. But she's also made a decision, and she has a responsible plan to deal with the result of her irresponsibility. It's characters like this that make you want to keep going to see movies. I applaud Diablo Cody (the screenwriter) for reminding us that everyone is not a weak, sniveling idiot.