If Quentin Tarantino had written “Little Miss Sunshine,” the result might have sounded a lot like “Juno.” Its stylized dialogue is sharp as a razor and constantly inventive — an amazing accomplishment from first-time screenwriter Diablo Cody. While a far cry from the way a normal person would talk, the words never cease to entertain.
With a vaguely similar storyline as “Knocked Up,” the film follows the escapades of 16-year-old Juno MacGuff, whose name is not to be confused with the city in Alaska, as she sardonically asserts in one scene. Played with a blunt spunk by Ellen Page (“Hard Candy”), the performance is star-making.
Events escalate when Juno discovers she’s pregnant after a one-night stand with Paulie Bleeker. Bleeker — “Superbad’s” Michael Cera — is, as the name implies, a major nerd — albeit a charming one — and is clueless on how to handle the situation. After briefly considering an abortion, Juno decides to have the baby and give it up for adoption, finding the soon-to-be-parents in, of all places, the Penny Saver.
One of the best aspects of the film is Juno’s reaction to her surroundings, which is usually cynical and dripping in sarcasm. Whether it’s dealing with her parents, the hilarious J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney, or those of her unborn child’s — a surprisingly good combination of Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner — her strong-willed personality shines. Just like a cowboy with a holstered gun at the ready, she finds strength in staying prepared to dish out a smart quip at a moment’s notice. Even though, as she points out, these issues are beyond her young understanding, this determined resiliency allows her to plow through them.
Director Jason Reitman, who struck gold with last year’s hit indie film “Thank You For Smoking,” once again balances a chain of varied elements with remarkable adeptness. By incorporating such things as an animated credit sequence and an indie acoustic/pop soundtrack, along with impeccable comic timing, the quirky mood he creates proves just the right complement to Cody’s writing. While at times it might border on being a little too clever — especially when considering the young age of its cast — it never loses sight of the characters or what they're going through.
Remember the names Ellen Page, Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody because “Juno” will likely catapult the three to household name status. The trio is nothing short of magnificent and, along with the perfectly eccentric cast, makes “Juno” the indie breakthrough of the year and 2007’s best comedy. See it before all of your friends start quoting it.