If you haven't heard yet of the quirky little movie, Juno, you soon will. I predict it will be the sleeper hit of the year. The plot sounds sappy. Juno is the name of a 16-year-old girl who gets pregnant by a befuddled nerd ("It was my idea," she says. "It was?" he replies looking puzzled.) She decides to have an abortion but is dissuaded by a single picketer, a young Asian girl who yells at her, "It has fingernails." She finds a yuppie couple to adopt the baby. In the end she finds love and happiness with the nerd.
Although the plot sounds like a recipe for sap, the movie takes unexpected turns and has such a unique outlook, that the poignancy is disguised by the originality and authenticity. I have never met a 16-year-old girl like Juno, but she is absolutely believable. As regular readers of this blog know, the "suspension of disbelief" is important to me in watching a movie, and I was absolutely engaged in this one.
Juno reminds me a lot of another favorite of mine, Napoleon Dynamite in its ordinary strangeness. I have seen the movie described as a "dark comedy," but I fail to see the dark side. It is better described as a "serious comedy," in my view. It does not have the feel of Hollywood, like for instance another recent unplanned pregnancy movie, Knocked Up, which was not a bad movie, but felt contrived, the way mainstream movies do. Juno feels real.
Despite the PG-13 rating, this is not a movie that a fundamentalist church will send its youth group to see for its anti-abortion message. Juno is very hip, very smart and very earthy. I'm not sure that even I, with my liberal values, would want Juno for a daughter, but I surely would love to sit down and listen to her talk.
When I asked Son Number One whether he and his wife would like to go see the movie with us (I liked it so much I was ready to go see it again the next day,) he asked who is in it, and I told him that it was no one he has ever heard of. (Actually that statement stands a good chance of being wrong as SNO is a walking encyclopedia of arcane movie knowledge, but most people have never heard of any of the people connected with the movie.) The director is Jason Reitman, who is semi-well known for the movie Thank You For Smoking from 2005. Other than directing some of The Office television episodes,that's about it for Reitman's previous directing work.
But the writer, oh the writer! The heart and soul of the movie is clearly the work of the writer, who calls herself Diablo Cody. She grew up in the Village of Lemont, Illinois, a small town between Aurora and Chicago. She was working as a writer in an advertising agency in Minneapolis and hating it when she had an epiphany one day. She told herself she would rather be naked than do that job, so she quit and got a job as a striper. She wrote the movie while she was working as a striper. She also wrote a book around the same time, Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Striper which had modest success but got her on the David Letterman show for this hilarious interview.
And, get this: There's an Amish connection! (Everything has to have an Amish connection on this blog.) Cody writes, or until recently did, a blog called. . . well, never mind what it's called, but you can visit it here. In the blog (scroll way down) she says she used to date a guy from Pennsylvania "a million years ago" (a little bit of an exaggeration since she's only 29) who taught her "weird Amish expressions" like "rootchi," meaning squirmy, a word which she still uses. So, who in Pennsylvania is going to teach Cody Amish expressions except an Amishman? Easy, are you reading? Find out for me who the Amishman is that used to date Cody.
This movie gets my highest rating, five stars. Go see it.