Reviewed by: Spencer Schumacher
|Featuring||Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Olivia Thirlby, J.K. Simmons, Allison Janney, Rainn Wilson, Lucas MacFadden, Candice Accola, Cameron Bright, Daniel Clark, Kaaren de Zilva, Steven Christopher Parker, Sierra Pitkin, Robyn Ross, Wendy Russell, Emily Tennant, Valerie Tian, Ross Tweedale, Ashley Whillans|
“Thank You for Smoking”
|Producer||Joseph Drake, Daniel Dubiecki, Lianne Halfon, Nathan Kahane, Kelli Konop, John Malkovich, Jim Miller, Mason Novick, Russell Smith, Brad Van Arragon|
|Distributor||Fox Searchlight Pictures|
“A comedy about growing up… and the bumps along the way.”
Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “‘Juno’ stars Ellen Page as the title character, a whip-smart teen confronting an unplanned pregnancy by her classmate Bleeker (Cera). With the help of her hot best friend Leah (Thirlby), Juno finds her unborn child a ‘perfect’ set of parents: an affluent suburban couple, Mark and Vanessa (Bateman and Garner), longing to adopt. Luckily, Juno has the total support of her parents (Simmons and Janney) as she faces some tough decisions, flirts with adulthood and ultimately figures out where she belongs.”
We meet sixteen year-old Juno MacGuff as she swigs Sunny Delight® during the opening credits of the original and warm-hearted film “Juno”. She bounces into a convenience store to purchase and get results from a pregnancy test. Her worries are confirmed, as a one-time fling with her best friend and classmate Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera, “Super Bad”) leaves her pregnant.
After much consideration, and a trip to an abortion clinic, she decides to deliver the baby and give it up for adoption. She finds a suitable couple in the pages of a local “classified” paper and goes with her father to meet the perspective parents for her baby.
Upon meeting Vanessa and Mark Loring, played by Jason Bateman (“Arrested Development”) and Jennifer Garner (“Alias”), she enters into what can best be described as an awkward relationship between an outspoken pregnant teen and an anxious, but barren couple.
The film is hardly another teen movie, as it tackles the issue of teen pregnancy and all its peripheral ramifications in a very mature manner.
Ellen Page plays the part of a naïve teenager who speaks with her mouth before her mind—to perfection. She leads a terrific cast that brings a fresh vibrancy to a film that explores familiar territory. Though Juno’s pregnancy is at front and center of the film, the story mostly delves into the heart of this family and how Juno (in her unconventional wisdom) brings her extended family together in trying to find a suitable home for the child she is putting up for adoption. It also explores the awkward terrain that teenage love (and unexpected pregnancy) brings to a couple trying to determine how much they really “like” each other. The interactions between Juno and the perspective adoptive couple bring an element of realism to this movie as each character deals with how this baby will change their lives.
When looking at the moral perspective of the film, it can only be viewed within the parameters from which it comes. There is plenty in the film that many audiences, particularly Christian audiences may find objectionable. Juno is a very outspoken, forthright teenage girl who doesn’t hold her tongue for anyone. The outspoken manner in which she talks with her father (J.K. Simmons) and stepmother (Allison Janney) might come across to some as disrespectful. There is also the flippant attitude that she has toward her baby (which at one point she refers to as a “sea monkey”), as well as a semi-confrontation she has with a classmate protesting outside an abortion clinic. However, without giving too much away, these items serve as points from which her character develops. There is a definite growth in all characters involved.
The film definitely delves into frank talk about mature subject matter. There are candid discussions about teenage sex and contraception, but the actual act that led to Juno’s being pregnant is never seen, just the after effects. There is a fair amount of profanity and mature language. The image that audiences may find most disturbing is actually an image from another film, 1960’s ultra low-budget horror film aptly titled “Wizard of Gore” (the title alone is descriptive enough). The image appears when Juno and Mark are having an intellectual debate over tastes in music and movies. Mark displays his taste of the obscure by showing her a scene from the aforementioned gore film. The camera doesn’t cut away as we see a rather infamous scene from that film.
Yes, there is plenty of material that audiences may find offensive, starting with the fact that the title character is an unwed, pregnant teenager. However, as stated earlier, there is a definite sense of redemption and growth experienced by Juno and all the characters in this film. Audience members who stay with Juno through her pregnancy (and this film) will find a warm-spirited movie with an unusual amount of heart and humor packaged in a quirky, yet very realistic film.
Reviewer’s addition (January 12, 2008): I would like to respond to a comment that was sent in regards to an omission I made in a moral aspect of the film. Concerning the scene in which Juno becomes pregnant, I mistakenly stated as not being shown in the film. I must admit, having recently seen “Juno” again, that there is a scene (very early) in which the act of Juno’s conception is seen—however, the scene is comparatively mild, as there is no nudity and is no more explicit than what can be seen on primetime TV. As far as the original review, I still stand by the final analysis that this is a well-crafted film of a unique and interesting teenage girl who despite the pressures of teen pregnancy makes a morally correct decision to keep her baby and give it up for adoption based not upon an accident, but an intentional decision (one that I might add, is based upon arguments embraced by the pro-life community). I don’t make it a point to argue my opinion of a certain film (as everyone is entitled to their opinion), however, to state that there is no “redemptive value” in the film is not fair to the change demonstrated in Juno. Without giving away the ending, the circumstances Juno goes through cause her to see the errors of her ways and develop a new level of maturity. Her parents are some of the most supportive and well drawn parents in recent cinema history. Yes, there are moments that are objectionable, but overall “Juno” takes a fresh look at tackling a controversial subject, one that has become all too familiar in our society.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.