Review Redux: Juno Opens Today

The following is an excerpt of, update to and further thoughts on, a review that originally ran on September 13th, as part of our Toronto International Film Festival coverage. Needless to say, since I wrote that review fresh off the film’s bow in Telluride, Fox Searchlight’s Juno Juggernaut’s been going full steam and I fully expect it to have a smash 5 day opening. I’ve since seen it a second time (and soon will a third, I am sure) and every person I mention the film to, and I mean every one, is looking forward to seeing it, ages 16-60. At AFI a table of 3 male film writers who were probably pushing 200 years old combined were all gushing about it. A typical “teen” film, this is not. That’s not to say it’s not appropriate for teens, it most certainly is, but it’s far more than that.
From my original review:
While the tendency might be to lump Juno, the sophomore feature from director Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking) and first-time writer Diablo Cody into the group (new genre?) of quirky comedies, a la I *Heart* Huckabees, Napoleon Dynamite and Rushmore, don’t. The thing is, while it contains elements of those oddball-laden films, Juno is its own animal in that it’s smart, funny and above all, real. The film should mark the coming out of several major talents, including writer Cody and Juno herself, Ellen Page. While I won’t shoot myself if Cody doesn’t get an Oscar nomination, I will be gobsmacked. While we’re at it, how about one for Page, too?
The New York Times’ A.O. Scott writes that Juno “respects the idiosyncrasies of its characters rather than exaggerating them or holding them up for ridicule. And like Juno herself, the film outgrows its own mannerisms and defenses, evolving from a coy, knowing farce into a heartfelt, serious comedy.” That hits the nail on the head just about as well as any other review out there and relates to something I wrote in my original piece. In short, there are teenagers this smart and smart-mouthed, there are parents as cool and understanding, eventually, as Juno’s dad and stepmom and there are indeed teenage pregnancies that don’t end in utter disaster. That said, don’t think this film shies away from portraying that everything is not hunky dory in pregnant Juno land. Juno describes herself as a “cautionary whale” and while it’s a clever line, it also speaks to the point behind the laughs. Being pregnant at 16 is no joke and as Scott remarks in his review “Kids, please! Heed the cautionary whale. But in the meantime, have a good time at Juno. Bring your parents, too.”
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