Juno - Cinema Review

Juno is the clever, hip, indie, teen, insert-your-own fashionable adjective here comedy from hip, indie, not-quite-teen writer Diablo Cody. Following the teenage pregnancy of Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) and the effect it has on her many relationships director Jason Reitman has created a bit of a mini-monster with four OSCAR nominations and a healthy U.S box office.

It is unlikely, however, that Juno will score as big on its UK release. Cody’s script is smart, witty and clever but it’s also an almost disturbing recreation of American teen speak. In the end the dialogue that Juno and her compatriots spout comes across like nails on a chalkboard; sure the noise it makes is unique and clever and certain people like it but most people do not want to sit through ninety-six minutes of it.

If it were a ‘normal’ teen-comedy then this alone would probably be enough to de-rail Juno but this is no normal film, nor for that matter, is it a teen comedy. It’s telling that the people Juno plays off against best are the adults she interacts with on a daily basis. Mr MacGuff (J.K. Simmons) is perfectly judged as the grudgingly understanding father while Allison Janney as step-mom MacGuff is fantastic for Page to simultaneously dual with and yet tenderly appreciate; it is the perfect depiction of the mother/teenage-daughter love/hate relationship.

The real adult stars of the show, however, are Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman playing the couple Juno picks to adopt her un-born child. Reitman manipulates the audience with amazing intelligence over which one to like and which one to hate; initial sympathies soon giving way to new judgements. Bateman’s character (Mark) develops perfectly into Juno’s antithesis and when Juno arrives home to state she is ‘dealing with things way above my maturity level’ she should really be talking about Mark’s reactions to events, rather than her own.

Juno’s inclusion in the Best Picture list at the OSCARs is a token gesture more than anything, a brief nod in the direction of Fox Searchlight who have been picking up great indie films for quite a while now. It is not good enough to win but it is good enough to move Page, Cody and Reitman further up the celebrity stardom list. If you can survive the grating dialogue you’ll be treated to a film with real heart which isn’t afraid to make its under-age target audience do a little bit of thinking.

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