Friday, January 25, 2008

Juno

Oh, kids these days. In such a hurry to grow up. In our modern, fast-paced world, kids are all too eager to abandon the simple joys of childhood but are often unprepared to handle the pressures and responsibilities of adulthood. Such is the case with the titular hero in Juno - a confident and independent-minded teenager who treats the grownups in her life as equals and quietly disapproves of her classmates' childishness. Her friend, Paulie Bleeker, is less adept at the grownup thing. He tries to put up a mature and confident front, but the anxiety of being rushed into an adult world shows through regardless.



When Juno and Bleeker (awkwardly) have sex, they find themselves surprised and unprepared for the most adult of consequences - pregnancy. Bleeker has a quiet freak-out, while Juno barrels ahead, navigating the responsibilities with a matter-of-fact attitude and a quick-witted sense of humor. With the support of her friend and the reluctant help of her parents, she strikes a deal to let a childless yuppie couple adopt her baby. The Lorrings, Mark and Vanessa, seem like the perfect potential parents. Vanessa is a responsible and sensible woman and Mark is a successful commercial musician who long ago gave up his rock-star dreams for a life of quiet suburban stability. Over the course of Juno's pregnancy, she and Mark bond over music and movies and we soon see why they can communicate on the same level - Juno is a child yearning to be a grown-up, while Mark a man trapped in a grown-up life who yearns for the freedom of his youth. As their relationship and Juno's pregnancy develop, Juno begins to see the value in her youth and slows down enough to rediscover the simple joys she had once been so eager to abandon.



Juno is up for four Academy Awards - Best Picture, Best Actress (Ellen Page), Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. Clearly, this movie holds the "quirky arty" slot in the Best Picture race (once filled by movies like The Full Monty, Chocolat, and Little Miss Sunshine) and a nomination is probably as far as that will go. Four other, more prestigious films are nominated for Best Picture and Best Director. Twenty-year-old Ellen Page did a brilliant job and successfully carries most of the movie, but she is up against some heavyweights in the Best Actress category. Fortunately, Juno is up for Original Screenplay - the best hope for the "quirky arty." Voters don't feel right giving major awards to "lighter" movies, but often reward them for their sharp writing. And the writing in Juno could cut glass.

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