Every year, there’s that one movie that is so low-key and independent from the glossy Hollywood spirit, that it sneaks on to everyone’s top 10 list. For 2007, and for me, Juno is that movie. It tells the story of a pregnant teenager who decides she wants to give her baby away to a picked out family, and traces her pregnancy from, uhem, conception, to birth. The plot is delicate, yet simple enough, though the film is brought to life by all the great elements you’d want in a movie: colorful characters, clever dialogue, brilliant directing, memorable scenes and of course, a great soundtrack.
In this case, the title character is played by Ellen Page, who does an absolutely brilliant job. The sharp-tongued yet intelligent character carries the seriousness of pregnancy with a light heart, that is at times emotionally teenage, but for the most part a display of wisdom that is far beyond her 16 years. Meanwhile, the potential parents-to-be, are played by Jennifer Garner, an uptight, suburban supermom, and Jason Bateman, a domesticated husband who is still rock star at heart. Michael Cera, who played Bateman’s son in the super-funny yet canceled show, Arrested Development, plays Juno’s track-running, nerdy, awkward, would-be boyfriend who impregnates her. With Superbad under his belt (or track shorts), this is Cera’s second talented performance of the year. The casting for all these parts is simply perfect.
Ellen Page carries a great deal of the movie, while Jason Reitman, who directed another brilliant film Thank You For Smoking, is behind the camera here. Together, along with a witty script, they create a movie that is reminiscent of Wes Anderson’s Rushmore; Page does a remarkable job with her character for a first time lead role in the same way Jason Swartzman did with the memorable Max Fischer. Rushmore set a new tone for a dark-comedy dealing with teenage issues in an adult manner, making them watchable and understandable only to mature audiences. But both films are different and unique unto themselves.
Juno also has a very Canadian-humor feel to it, and given that Page, Cera, Reitman and Bateman are all Canadians, that might have been inevitable. Juno will have you hooked on the storyline, and the characters will string you along for a great cinematic ride.
There should be a law against not loving a movie like this. While I haven’t watch every movie (yet), it currently ranks as my #1 pick of 2007.
Easily a 5/5