Movie Review: Juno

“That ain’t no Etch-A-Sketch. This is one doodle that can’t be un-did, Homeskillet.”

“All babies want to get borned!”

“Doctors are sadists who like to play God and watch lesser people scream.”

Welcome to the Indie Mecca. A witty, humorous revamp of an old cautionary tale: watch out, unwed teenage would-be mothers!

Our guide through this particular tale is Juno (Ellen Blake), a high school junior that made the unfortunate choice of jumping her friend Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera) and got herself thoroughly with child. The spacey and delightfully odd Juno, determined to remain unattached and drifting through life, but unable to bring herself to abortion, decides to birth and hock the baby off on an eager couple (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner) with their own sets of issues. Then, of course, she gets a crush on Bateman, so additional wackiness unfolds.

This thing is Indie from the get-go, right from the bizarre art stylings of the opening credits. Yet it was also a mainstream success. Hence my Indie Mecca title. It was formed off the beaten path but managed to appeal to audiences all across the board—and for good reason.

While it does make for a disturbing re-run through of high school, the movie is definitely attractive. Wackiness abounds and the whole thing rolls with this surreal, offbeat quality that burrows under your skin, no matter the guard you put up against it. The characters are delightful, from the unusually indifferent and smart-cracking Juno, to the naïve goody-boy Paulie, Juno’s dysfunctional family, and the neurotic couple hoping for her child.

HIPNESS about sums it up. It is the trait lurking constantly behind the scenes—in the language, the characters, and every facet of the design. Goofy would also work, as you spend much of your time staring at the screen thinking, “What are they saying? What are they DOING!?” Only to realize that, while it may take it to an advanced degree: teenies, this is your language, and they’re all speaking it. Everyone has their quirks, and this movie revels in it—the inherent oddness of life.

Scenes flow and the movie never dulls. Even as the romance and the drama leaks in, this comedy doesn’t lose a beat. Characters never break role and the movie never wavers in its message or its methods. While it won’t have you screaming out in laughter, it will have you at a near-constant chuckle, through a charming sense of dramedy.

The soundtrack of this one’s also gotten a lot of traction since the movie’s release, sparking a renewed interest in a lot of that Indie sound. While I liked the craft of the movie, however, I must admit that the soundtrack had me 50-50. Some of the tunes really carried me, like a warm caress—but others just made me want to throttle somebody. All fit the general tone of the movie in that aura of dreaminess, but some of it just wasn’t my bag.

Also: Juno likes runners a bit too much. But that’s nothing to hold against anyone. I guess.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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~ by Chris G. on May 21, 2010.

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