Monday, December 17, 2007

"Juno" delivers plenty of laughs

My freelance review:
In the new movie Juno, the title character is a 16-year-old high school student who is witty, quirky and snappy.

And newly-pregnant. And as she ponders her situation, she remains witty, quirky and snappy.

I struggled a bit to accept that anyone -- let alone a 16-year-old! -- would behave this way given the gravity of the situation.

Despite this flaw, though, Juno manages to please. Director Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking -- reviewed here) maintains a consistently quirky tone to the film, and overall there are a great number of laughs that come about. In fact, when I saw this film in November at a sold-out screening at the St. Louis Film Festival, the audience was roaring with laughter.

And as the film goes on, the main character's hip demeanor is increasingly balanced by intermittent moments of warmth and humanity. As Juno, young actress Ellen Page exhibits good range.

There are also a number of strong supporting performances -- in particular, Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner as the prospective adoptive couple and Allison Janney (The West Wing) as Juno's mother.

Another plus for the film is that its story plays out in a way that isn't completely predictable.

Ultimately, I really enjoyed Juno. It's tone may take a little bit of getting used to, but it is worth seeing as a good and sometimes touching comedy.

Juno is playing in select cities. It starts Friday, Dec. 21 in St. Louis.

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