A Thunder Matt Movie Minute

December 14, 2007 | Comments (0) | by Chaim Witz


Release Date: Friday, December 14

The first (il)legitimate comedy all year NOT to have to use Judd Apatow's name in the advertising.

A year from now pundits will decry stories about unplanned pregnancies as 'soooo 2007'. First 'Knocked Up' and now 'Juno'. Being a bastard has never been so trendy.

'Juno' is a bit of bastard itself, and I mean that in the best possible way. Like that unwanted baby that you found at the bottom of your clothes hamper, 'Juno' is annoying and burdensome at first, but quickly wins you over and forces you to rethink your impending vasectomy.

The story revolves around the title character, Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page), a teenager who is accidentally sperminated by, of all people, Michael Cera. Whoops. She makes hasty plans for an abortion, but then decides to (pun alert!) 'abort' that idea, instead deciding to go ahead and have the baby. She finds a wholesome yet appropriately hip couple (Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman) in the Pennysaver Ad and decides that they will be the proud owners of her little pants-pooping bundle of joy. Ah, if it were only that easy.

For the first 15 minutes, 'Juno' simply tries too hard. It's cloying and overtly quirky just for the sake of being quirky. Look, a 'hamburger phone'! Look, she's gnawing on an unlit pipe! Instead of saying 'oh my God', one character exclaims (via phone conversation on said hamburger phone) 'oh my blog'. (Pulling on collar) Is this thing on?

But then a funny thing happens on the way to the delivery room, both literally and figuratively. Juno is stuck with the unpleasant task of confronting her parents and telling them about her little mistake. From that point on 'Juno' does a 180 and becomes one of the most charming and funny movies of the year*. The story becomes the focus and the characters gain more depth and you genuinely start to care about them, which is really what you ask for in a movie like this. Juno herself is sarcastic and tries to play it cool, but you see that underneath she is scared and vulnerable. The performance by Ellen Page is award-worthy.

Equally good is the supporting cast. Juno's parents, played by JK Simmons and Allison Janey, are anything but the stereotypical movie parents. Both of them are supportive and loving and also get some of the funniest lines of the film. Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner are equally superb as the adoptive parents. She was born to be a mother. He's unsure if he's ready. Their performances are both funny and painfully real.

'Juno' will be the big indie hit of the year, a la 'Little Miss Sunshine'. Some people will probably hate it for that. These people also enjoy French cinema and have a reserved aisle seat in hell. 'Juno' is smart and charming. If I have a daughter, I want her to grow up to be like Juno. Minus the whole getting knocked up as a teenager part.

*Guys, this is that one movie that you can finally take the girlfriend/wife/spouse/whore to that she will enjoy and that you don't have to feel really gay about.

Thunder Matt Rating: 4 Children Out of 5 Tries