Monday, May 19, 2008
Perhaps my favorite part of Juno is not just the acerbic wit of the lead character (named after Zeus’ wife not the city) but the supporting characters around her: Leah the best friend, Mac her father, Bren her stepmother and Bleeker the father. Each of these characters is realistic in the way they respond to Juno’s plight and offer the support and love that I would hope any of my friends would get if they were in Juno’s situation.
When Juno comes running straight from the abortion clinic to Leah’s house and announces that she’s going to “stay pregnant” Leah quickly moves from freaking out about how this will change Juno’s life to suggesting to Juno how to find a quality adoptive couple for the baby. Throughout the rest of the film she is by Juno’s side through thick and thin when Juno tells her parents about her situation to the actual delivery itself.
Just as important are Bren and Mac Juno’s parents. When Juno tells them that she is pregnant they don’t tell though visibly upset, instead they step in to help Juno take her pregnancy seriously; Mac stays by Juno’s side through the adoption process right until after the delivery when he consoles her by saying someday she’ll have a baby when she’s ready to have one. After finding out Juno is pregnant Bren immediately jumps in to the mother role to her stepdaughter by taking her to the doctor, protecting her from the condescension of the ultra-sound tech and even screaming at the doctors to give Juno “the damn spinal tap” when she is in labor.
Then there is Bleeker, the father of Juno’s baby and the last person anyone expected to be able to get a girl pregnant. Bleeker is a relatively calm character who tries to stay by Juno’s side even when she pushes him away. To Bleeker Juno is still the only girl in the world and he doesn’t understand why she can’t see that. However, slow and steady wins the race and by the end of Juno’s journey she has realized that Bleeker is the best thing that could have happened to her.
Finally, we have Juno herself. While this character is an irresponsible teenage girl she proves more than capable of “dealing with things way beyond [her] maturity level”. She moves with absolute resolution from deciding to abort the pregnancy to staying pregnant and giving up the baby for adoption. Her wit and sarcasm are her greatest weapons that arm her to deal with the skeptics around her, and she seeks out not just a better life for the baby, but to find out her ultimate goal – who she truly is.
Juno is a quirky film that balances a peculiar sense of humor with a dramatic subject, but it is the heart of the movie that makes it truly shine. If Jason Reitman was able to make a “joyful movie about lung cancer” in Thank You for Smoking, then with Diablo Cody’s script he makes a warm-hearted film about teen pregnancy.
Director: Jason Reitman
Writer: Diablo Cody
Juno: Ellen page
Bleeker: Michael Cera
Vanessa: Jennifer Garner
Mark: Jason Bateman
Bren: Allison Janney
Mac: J.K. Simmons
Leah: Olivia Thirlby
Vanessa Loring: Your parents are probably wondering where you are.
Juno MacGuff: Nah... I mean, I'm already pregnant, so what other kind of shenanigans could I get into?