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Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue

Critic's Corner


by DNA Smith


02/13/2008 - "Juno"

Running time: 91 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13

I see a couple hundred movies a year. Most, about 70 percent, are average. Not great, but not horrible. Ten percent are pure dreck. Fifteen percent are above average. And then there's that top 5 percent, the films that remind critics why we love movies.

"Juno" is one of those upper five percentile films that reviewers like me gush about. It's smartly written, beautifully acted and directed with finesse.

The film stars the captivating Ellen Page as Juno MacGuff, an almost-too-hip-to-be-real 16-year-old who becomes pregnant following first-time sex with her boyfriend Bleeker (Michael Cera) because they were bored.

Now here's why "Juno" is such a great flick. At the beginning, you get the impression it's gonna be like "Little Miss Sunshine," one of those indie films that's too self-consciously glib. But it isn't. After about 10 minutes, everyone settles into their roles, and the humor comes not from the snappy dialogue, but from the realness of the performances.

Then, after Juno accepts the fact that she's pregnant, you begin to cringe a little because you think it's gonna be a political movie about abortions. But it isn't a political film. Juno's pregnancy and her choices (she decides to go through with the pregnancy and give the baby up for adoption) are treated in a very real, very human way.

Credit for this must be given to screenwriter Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman, and also to the supporting cast: Allison Janney and J.K. Simmons as Juno's dad and step-mom, and Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman as the yuppie couple wanting to adopt Juno's child.

I don't want to go overboard in my praise for this film, because I know that when most people hear a critic gas on and on about a movie, it never lives up to the hype. So, I'm just gonna say, "See Juno." It's the best film I've seen in more than a year.

GRADE: A

(c) 2008 King Features Synd., Inc.

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