First came the buzz, then there was the hype, followed by the Oscar. Until the criticism arrived : the dialogues were too hip and sharp. The movie was pro feminists. The movie was anti feminists. The movie ignored the abortion question.

I loved the dialogues, I don't think the movie was either pro or contra feminists and I reckon it tackled the abortion issue rather well. Juno considers the option, but she has a change of heart. Very realistic.

Sure, no 16-year old has the wit of Juno. She always has a snappy comeback. But it's a movie : realism can take a nap. And not all sentences are far-fetched. When Paulie Bleeker (played by Michael Cera) says "I try really hard, actually" [about being cool], you really relate to him. The doubts and fears of a 16-year old, we've all been there.

Ellen Page is just wonderful. She looks the part, despite being in her twenties. Jennifer Garner surprised me : her role as a desperate mother-to-be is a far cry from her Alias persona. I had doubts about her acting chops before and I thought she would be typecast as the tough female forever. But miss Garner : you are a real actress. Bravo! Jason Bateman, critically applauded for his starring role in the cancelled sitcom Arrested Development, is very talented as well.

I can only imagine what parents with a pregnant child go through, but J.K. Simmons (funny in The Ladykillers, hilarious in Spider-Man) and Allison Janney both show their strength as desperate though loving parents.

The real treat of the movie - apart from Page - is Michael Cera. He's so goofy and desperate at the same time. The poor chap just doesn't know how to react to the unexpected pregnancy.

The movie includes a fair amount of references. I think you only half enjoy the flick without an adequate pop culture knowledge. Examples include Dario Argento, The Carpenters & Spinal Tap. My favourite? Juno explains how her stepmom wants her to eat healthy food. She also has to stay away from the microwave and she can't eat red M&M's. Red M&M's? Why exactly that colour? Because the two main colours are red and yellow. And who does the voice of the yellow M&M in the televised ads? J.K. Simmons! It's only natural that Juno must eat her father's colour. It's a stretch, but I do believe the nod is intentional.

Script, actors, cinematography are all "thumbs up" worthy, but the absolute highlight of Juno is the music! I had already bought the soundtrack, just because I had read so many glowing reviews. The album is a rare case of 'all crackers, no slackers' : not once do I feel the need to skip forward. I also love the fact that I discovered a whole lot of new bands thanks to the score, bands I want to explore more. Belle & Sebastian, for example. Or The Moldy Peaches and its singer Kimya Dawson. Six of her songs were put on the album and I love every one of them. One point of criticism : the song "Loose Lips" plays during the end credits. In the original song, Kimya Dawson uses the line "Fuck Bush and fuck this war", but the censors at Fox cut it from the movie. How lame, for a movie that tries to be edgy and take a stance!

So what's wrong about Juno? Very little. In fact, nothing. I really liked it and I want to see it again. Run to the video library and rent a copy! Or, if you have money to blow, buy it today. You "shan't" regret it!

Julian De Backer, 13 August 2008

P.S. Too bad the film couldn't win any "Juno Awards", because that's a music price. A big part of the cast and crew is Canadian, so it would have been cool.