directed by: Jason Reitman
starring: Ellen Page, Michael Cera, J.K. Simmons, Allison Janney, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner
Released in 2007.
Juno is known for a couple of things. One, it's a teenage pregnancy drama. (Although the funny thing is that anyone who knows about this movie probably doesn't think of it that way.) Two, it's Ellen Page's big break. Three, it was written by Diablo Cody.
That last point makes Juno pretty unique. Usually if anyone knows who wrote a movie, it was the director. There are exceptions, sure, but for the most part few people think of the writers as an active part of a film's success. It's either the director or the actors, and anyone else you have to be a real cinephile to care about. Not so with Diablo Cody. She became an immediate sensation thanks to Juno. In fact, even though Jason Reitman as director had his own budding career have a definite mark of distinction with this movie, everyone talked about it as if it was Cody's baby alone.
Yet it's also very much about Ellen Page. She's the rare young actor who is able to captivate an audience, and the sardonic nature of Juno helps demonstrate her specific appeal and make it palatable to a mass audience.
It certainly doesn't hurt that she has a terrific supporting cast around her. Michael Cera is probably the opposite of Page as far as mass appeal goes. He's become a favorite of filmmakers, but he plays a pretty specific role that doesn't always translate to mass audiences, the nebbish loner who somehow is great at making the right connections, or in other words our new Woody Allen. He's perfect for a movie like Juno, a key element of its success and a perfect complement to Page. Yet it's not just young people. J.K. Simmons, who was brought to everyone's attention as J. Jonah Jameson in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies, begins to assert himself as a much more broad and appealing presence as Page's father, while potential adoptive parents Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner have a chance to present their own charms, which can sometimes be unappreciated. (It's nice to see Cera and Bateman in a project together outside of Arrested Development, too.)
The whole affair is about as laid back as the main character herself, enjoyable and transformative.