It is much more difficult, I find, to praise a movie than to pan one. I guess that is true of most things, actually. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Juno earlier this week with Julie. It was just what we expected it to be, and that is a good thing.
Juno is a modest little film, but that is not to say that it doesn't have some interesting things to say. As you probably already know, it is the story of a pregnant teenager who decides to give her baby up for adoption after she is unable to go through with an abortion. The movie follows her from her third pregnancy test (she tells the store clerk that the previous test result looked more like a division sign than a plus sign) through telling the baby's father and her parents, finding adoptive parents, attending school with an ever-expanding waistline, forging a relationship with the childless couple she has chosen, shedding tears in her hospital bed after giving up her newborn son, and finally, returning to the normal life of a sixteen-year-old.
This may sound odd, but what I liked about this film was all the things that didn't happen. Juno and her boyfriend weren't forced to get married. Her parents didn't disown her - or even chastise her. She didn't have a skeezy relationship with the man-child whose wife desperately wanted Juno's baby. She didn't have a car accident. She didn't miscarry. She didn't change her mind and keep the baby. Just like in real life, there weren't any shocking plot devices to change the course of the story. I liked that.
The actors were excellent - none of them struck a false note throughout the entire film. Ellen Page was outstanding as Juno, but I also liked J. K. Simmons as her dad. I recognized him as Dr. Emil Skoda from many episodes of Law & Order, of course. Well, I could just go on and mention each of the actors by name, but suffice it to say they were all pitch perfect. The dialogue was clever and smart-alecky, but didn't sound overly witty or artificial. Julie recognized much of the music in the sound track, and although it wasn't familiar to me, it seemed to fit just right.
Is this movie the best picture of the year? Probably not. However, it was entertaining and human and real, and watching it was a perfect way to spend a cold, damp February afternoon. I recommend it.