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Monday, 29 November 1999 19:00
Local opening date: December 21, 2007
Reviewed by Diane Carson
The ad for director Jason Reitman's film Juno might go something like, "She's 16, pregnant, and looking for a loving couple to adopt her baby." But that would barely suggest the creative approach writer Diablo Cody takes to Juno MacGuff's clichéd situation, for Juno is whip smart, fast talking, and too clever by half for shallow, hypocritical adults.

As Juno, Ellen Page is perfection, telegraphing a believable intelligence, sharp sense of humor, and crucial sincerity. Because Page anchors the film, she must snap her comic zingers even as she makes her frustration, anger, and vulnerability equally clear. The upscale couple selected-Vanessa and Mark Loring, played by Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman-appropriately ooh and ahh while suggesting the trouble to come. As the pieces fall into place, as the pregnancy progresses, as Juno waddles around, good intentions and big-hearted people slyly triumph.

At its Telluride Film Festival premiere, Diablo Cody said she wrote Juno in an amazingly quick two months time a couple years ago wanting to dream up something that had not been done. Jason Reitman, yes, Ivan Reitman's son, is the ideal person to direct for two reasons. He's shown his ability to make an iconoclastic film with Thank You for Smoking and his wife gave birth a couple weeks before they started filming Juno. At its first screening, many characters' lines were lost in the audience's riotous laughter. A fabulous scene is Juno revealing her pregnancy to her father and step-mom, beautifully played by the always wonderful Allison Janney and J.K. Simmons who guess many worse offenses than pregnancy. Also up to the task is Juno's boyfriend Paulie, Michael Cera of Superbad fame. His awkwardness offers a necessary complement to Juno's composure.

Technical choices serve the storytelling without being exceptional or distracting. Well-chosen songs and music add energy, and the debate about the relative merits of Dario Argento and Herschell Gordon Lewis highlights good writing. Without cutesy pretense or phony moralizing, Juno is a fresh, enjoyable film. At Landmark's Plaza Frontenac and Tivoli Theatres.

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