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So it appears that Juno, directed by Jason Reitman (Thank you for Smoking) and written by the soon to be “It” writer, Diablo Cody, is going to be this year’s sleeper / “Awwww” movie this year, and deservedly so because it’s a great movie.

Writing a review for this movie would just be repeating every other good review that it gets, and it’s still going to get a great review from me, however, I figure, you’re going to hear a lot of good things about this movie, so why don’t I just tell you things I didn’t like about it?

I have this innate dislike for hip, indie movies that try to be more hip than the story they’re trying to tell ( ie: Rushmore, Garden State, etc) wherein every emotional transition in the film is illustrated with quirky Alt. Rock / Indie Emo music, where you know the director is basically patting himself on the back for his cool knowledge of college branded hits. Juno is full of that. I wanted to hate it, just in principle alone. I couldn’t though, because it just worked too well. – Score : I hate = 0, Juno = 1.

There is also the formulaic structure that all films follow, but Indie films like to “try” and ignore or at least downplay. Its also hard to call Juno an indie film, given the director's pedigree (Jason Reitman is Ghostbuster director Ivan Reitman’s son), and the star studded cast, that between the lot of them, their combined box office could feed a third world country. ( Ellen Page (X-3), Michael Cera (Superbad), J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man), Jennifer Garner (Ben Affleck) ). Juno does just that, it tries to be unconventional yet stays true to convention, and in turns creates a very pure and real experience. I wanted to fight this feeling of like, but alas, I was powerless to its reality. – Score: I hate = 0, Juno = 2.

I also can’t stand when a movie is of two minds. Is it trying to be this style or is it trying to be that style? In this movie, you get the feeling of a quirky comedy coming, but then you feel like you’re getting a great coming of age story. Then all of a sudden, the main character will do something out of the ordinary and all of sudden you’re watching Napoleon Dynamite. Juno ran the risk of doing just this, especially with lead Ellen Page’s almost too perfect dialogue, but with the right amount of acting, directing and mood, it all worked. Perfectly at most times at that even. -Score: I hate = 0, Juno = 3.

The hater in me wants to try and find more wrong with this movie, but I can’t. Juno is a great film, and for all reasons that make movies great. It’s the story of a sixteen year old girl (Ellen Page) who haphazardly experiments sexually with her best guy friend (Michael Cera) and ends up getting pregnant. She then decides to find a surrogate couple (Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman) to adopt the child, and ends up learning a lot more about herself than she’s ever been forced to in her young life.

First and foremost, the script is tight and real and it never treats the audience like a moron. It never feels like it has to surprise the viewers with unrealistic twists and plot points. It tells a basic story that anyone can appreciate because we were all young and unaware once. The direction from Reitman is tender and touching, capturing all the nuance of the situations this girl is going through. Reitman crafts a sweet movie here that never flies over the top, and like most of the events in our lives, they never do.

What else can be said about the acting here that won’t be repeated a million times in every other review? The acting is solid, from everyone. People will rave about Page’s lead, and she’s amazing. Cera, Simmons, and The West Wing’s Alison Janney all turn in outstanding performances in the way that they’re so reserved you hardly notice they’re acting. Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman are incredible as the surrogate parents and this is probably the first movie I’ve ever believed Garner in anything. Her delivery is reserved and vulnerable and believable. Bateman is great. No, Bateman is Awesome. His performance is subtle and downplayed, yet so effective. What more can you ask for?

I guess the most satisfying thing about Juno is the craft. It’s written well, directed well, and acted well. It’s a well made movie, that many people will like, and many young girls will embrace and hopefully inspire or at least awaken. And we need that in our films. We need movies to move us and to guide and teach us at the same time as entertaining us. Juno does that, and then some. And how could you find anything to hate about that?

Lon Lopez

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