Birth of a sensation

Ellen Page and Juno

Unplanned pregnancy is so stylish these days. As Waitress, Knocked Up, and now Juno have demonstrated, we've come a long way since a downtrodden Madonna informed Danny Aiello of her delicate condition in the "Papa Don't Preach" video (1986). Of course, Juno is the only film among 2007's baby-on-board crew to seriously consider abortion and settle on adoption; it's also the most sympathetic to its female protagonist, who is thankfully more relatable than Keri Russell's small-town pie chef or Katherine Heigl's impossibly hot TV reporter. She's a high schooler, she's caustic as hell, and even if she's occasionally too much of a screenwriter's construct, it's hard not to eagerly await her next wry, preternaturally mature observation.

Pitch-perfect as this pocket-size punkette is Hard Candy's Ellen Page, whose breakout status after Juno's release will be either matched or exceeded by that of hipster scribe Diablo Cody (director Jason Reitman already won over everybody with Thank You for Smoking). Sort-of couple Juno (Page) and Paulie (Michael Cera) consummate their mutual crush on a whim; cue bun in the oven. Ever the anti–after school special, Juno faces the news with eye-rolling determination. Before long, she's plucked a yuppie couple (Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman) from the "desperately seeking spawn" want ads. At first entirely uninterested in getting to know her baby's adoptive parents, Juno finds herself drawn to them, especially to the dad-to-be, a failed rocker turned jingle writer whose interest in the preggers teen is maybe not entirely wholesome.

Whatever — people aren't gonna go see Juno for its social commentary, or its take on teen pregnancy, really. This is one of those flicks with Heathers-like glib-clever-snarky dialogue that beg repeated viewings, memorization, and repetition. Besides a terrific script, the film also boasts a stellar cast, with Juno's parents played by Allison Janney and J.K. Simmons, and a cameo by The Office's Rainn Wilson. (Cheryl Eddy)


Opens Fri/14 in Bay Area theaters

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