Plot: Juno (Ellen Page) is an offbeat teenager who has an unplanned pregnancy. She makes the difficult decision to look for adoptive parents and finds Mark (Jason Bateman) and Vanessa (Jennifer Garner).
Who’s it for: If you want a feel-good, off-beat film, this is for you. Ellen Page’s performance reminded me of Jason Schwartzman’s debut in “Rushmore.”
Expectations: There was definite buzz that “Juno” would be this year’s “Little Miss Sunshine.” High expectations are rarely good, but it helped that I had never seen a preview before watching the film, so the best parts weren’t repeats for me.
Ellen Page as Juno: Wow. Page is a force on the screen. She finds the ability to act much older than she is while not coming off as too arrogant. Right from the beginning when Juno is chugging away on Sunny D, we want to see watch she will say and do next.
Jennifer Garner as Vanessa: Previously this year, Garner was in “The Kingdom” playing a similar character as her “Alias” persona. She has finally shed that in a great way. Vanessa is controlling and still mildly sweet. She is someone who has put a leash on her husband, but I was still able to have compassion for her situation.
Michael Cera as Paulie Bleeker: I don’t think I could ever grow tired of watching Cera squirm around dealing with teenage angst. Cera is having a great year after “Arrested Development,” with “Superbad” and now this.
Talking: “Juno” is absolutely one of the best scripts of the year. The dialogue is brilliant, with continuous reference to the term “sexual active.” And especially coming from young Juno with lines like, “They call me the cautionary whale.”
Sights and sounds: The quirky acoustic songs work perfectly, especially during the Wes Anderson inspired chapters of seasons that take us through the school year. Plus, a Belle and Sebastian song is always a plus, and there is a nice cover of the song “Sea of Love” by Cat Power.
Ellen Page could just be the break-out actress of the year (I haven’t seen everything yet). “Juno” is controlled by Juno, with pitch-perfect dialogue that will keep you begging for more one-liners from Page, Cera and even the quick performance by Rainn Wilson. This film has heart and a chance to appeal to a wide audience even though, deep down, it’s the ideal film for a person who felt like an outsider in high school (didn’t we all?).
Overall Score: 9