A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
Jason Reitman's "Juno" is just about the best movie of the year. It is very smart, very funny and very touching; it begins with the pacing of a screwball comedy and ends as a portrait of characters we have come to love. Strange, how during Juno's hip dialogue and cocky bravado, we begin to understand the young woman inside, and we want to hug her.
Has there been a better performance this year than Ellen Page's creation of Juno? I don't think so. If most actors agree that comedy is harder than drama, then harder still is comedy depending on a quick mind, utter self-confidence, and an ability to stop just short of going too far. Page's presence and timing are extraordinary. I have seen her in only two films, she is only 20, and I think she will be one of the great actors of her time.
But don't let my praise get in the way of sharing how much fun this movie is. It is so very rare to sit with an audience that leans forward with delight and is in step with every turn and surprise of an uncommonly intelligent screenplay. It is so rare to hear laughter that is surprised, unexpected and delighted. So rare to hear it coming during moments of recognition, when characters reflect exactly what we'd be thinking, just a moment before we get around to thinking it. So rare to feel the audience joined into one warm, shared enjoyment. So rare to hear a movie applauded.
Ellen Page plays Juno MacGuff, a 16-year-old girl who decides it is time for her to experience sex and enlists her best friend Paulie (Michael Cera) in an experiment he is not too eager to join. Of course she gets pregnant, and after a trip to an abortion clinic that leaves her cold, she decides to have the child. But what to do with it? She believes she's too young to raise it herself. Her best girlfriend Leah (Olivia Thirby) suggests looking at the ads for adoptive parents in the Penny Saver: "They have 'Desperately Seeking Spawn,' right next to the pet ads."