Juno, A First-Rate Movie

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It just may be that what folks will remember most about the 80th presentation of the Academy Awards is that Diablo Cody, a former professional stripper turned writer, won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for the movie Juno. This film also received other major nominations including Best Actress (for its young star, Ellen Page), Best Directing and Best Picture.

Page (who in real life is 20 years old) plays Juno MacGuff -- sassy, quick-witted, and wise-beyond-her-16-years -- who finds herself pregnant in a small Minnesota town thanks to a one-time encounter/experiment with her best friend and schoolmate Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera).

After ruling out an abortion, Juno begins her quest to find the perfect couple to adopt her baby. With help from girlfriend Leah (Olivia Thirlby) they turn to, of all things, the local "Penny Saver" (a weekly direct mail publication perhaps better known for pet than human adoptions). Surprisingly they do find an ad from yuppie couple Mark and Vanessa Loring (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner) looking to adopt a baby.

In the meantime, Juno has told Bleeker of their circumstances, but you sense immediately as a high school track star he is completely ill prepared to handle this situation.

Now the time has come to inform Juno's dad Mac (J.K. Simmons) and step-mom Bren (Allison Janney) about the pregnancy. Here, I felt the parents took this life-altering news almost to the point of being nonchalant. As an example, Mac admits he would have preferred Juno had a DUI, whereas Bren seems only to be thinking about a series of prenatal vitamins for Juno.

Juno now focuses on getting to know the Lorings and to make sure in her own mind that this couple will be the best parents for her baby. With Mark, she connects immediately with their similar tastes in horror flicks and music (as he is a commercial jingle writer), but there is something about Mark that is just not right. Surprisingly it is a little bit harder for Juno to relate to Vanessa, that is until they meet in a shopping mall and, stooping down, Vanessa speaks to the unborn baby with perhaps the movie's most heartfelt words.

The best part of "Juno" is the plethora of terrifically funny one-liners that keep coming at ya. Some may be disappointed that there is no talk about how to avoid teenage pregnancy, and that the movie "Juno" takes this very serious subject a little too cavalier.

The background music was terrific, an eclectic mixture touching on contemporary tunes to a rare Buddy Holly song.

A first-rate movie that is definitely worth seeing.

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