Sunday, March 13, 2011
One thing you know about a Jason Reitman movie is that the opening credits will be nothing short of eye-catching. The same is the case with Juno, a movie he made in 2007 with a script written by Diablo Cody. It is said that while Cody was writing it, she did so with a cynical bent of mind because she thought the movie was never going to be made because of lack of a financial backing. As it turned out though, within a year of her writing the movie, she not only was the recipient of an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay but also became known as the writer of the movie that is till date the highest grossing movie from the house of Fox Searchlight Pictures. To bring a perspective with numbers on this, the movie was made on a budget on $6 Mn. It went on to make $231 Mn !
Juno is the story of Juno Macguff (Ellen Page), a 16-year-old street smart teenager who in a moment of passion ends up having sex with her friend from high-school Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera). The romp unexpectedly leads to Juno becoming pregnant- a fact that would've been too much to deal with for an average school teenager. Not for Juno. With an uncanny composure she first decides to abort until hitting upon the idea that she can search for a couple who are looking to adopt. This little search leads her to the affluent Mark (Jason Bateman) and Vanessa (Jennifer Garner)- a barren couple who can't wait to adopt Juno's child. So far so good. Until out of nowehere Mark decides that he doesn't want to be with Vanessa anymore and doesn't want to become a father either. How Juno deals with this incident is the story of the movie.
The movie thrives because of Ellen Page. Her coolness quotient is what the story relies on. She is spontaneous, witty and has got a mind of her own. Considering that the girl plays guitar and knows her music inside out, you can picture her as the kind of girl the average guy dreams of dating in school. Her friend Paulie is a little clueless about how to handle Juno's pregnancy but not Juno. J.K. Simmons who plays Juno's Dad plays an unusually calm father who has to live with a girl as smart as Juno. He lets Juno have her way. It's his style of bringing her up and the father-daughter equation is the stuff of dreams for every kid growing up. Everything is so cool about the movie that the script sometimes makes you realize if the world we inhabit is as ideal. And that, I thought is the weakness of the movie. Things happen too easily and too quickly but that's not to take away from the smart lines in the movie that contribute to the movie's flair.
Juno is a good movie. It is compact and mostly funny. It deals with a topic as serious as teen pregnancy without making much noise. It deals it with it sensitively but never going over the top. All in all, it's worth a watch not just for those opening credits but because the rest of the movie is as good if not better.