I don’t know how much more there is to say about Juno. Through Oscar season we had the hype, the acclaim, the backlash, the backlash to the backlash… All I can say is that I loved the movie and that it was one of the few films I saw that I immediately wanted to see again.

Most of the controversy seems to revolve around the script. Is the dialogue too cutesy, are the characters too quirky? I don’t think so. The first five minutes smacked of trying too hard, but throughout I thought it adeptly walked the line to keep it from becoming too precious. Too much time has been spent complaining that Juno doesn’t speak realistically. Um, it’s a movie. No one in a movie talks realistically! Real people don’t have the coherence, dramatic touch, or comedic timing of movie characters. But, honestly, Juno doesn’t talk all that weirdly. Yes she doesn’t talk like a normal teenager, but she does talk like a self-absorbed, know-it-all, cocky, hip teen who thinks she’s awesome… which is exactly what Juno is! A viewing companion mentioned that he couldn’t believe that Juno would think Mark wouldn’t know Mott the Hoople. I think a sixteen-year-old who thinks she knows everything about music would definitely make that mistake. Teens think they’re bees knees and everyone else is lame. It’s a time honored tradition. I think sometimes Juno so frequently plays up how put-together she is that we forget she really isn’t.

The lingo-filled dialogue might have propelled Diablo Cody to a well-deserved Original Screenplay Oscar win, but it’s really the characters that make Juno special. I love how Juno’s layers are pulled back, revealing the self-sure dynamo’s insecurities. Ellen Page deftly lets the emotion peek out, never ever stooping to the melodramatic. Jason Bateman’s Mark and Jennifer Garner’s Vanessa start out looking like one type of couple and shift into something completely different. JK Simmons and Allison Janney as Juno’s father and step-mother are the caring and wise (and witty) parents that movie parents are rarely allowed to be.

It’s a film that’s so consciously full of quirky characters spouting dialogue that sometimes sounds like it’s trying too hard that it needs spot-on performances to excel and boy does it get them. All that fun slang needs to be delivered sincerely, not like an actor proud of himself for saying such witty stuff. It’s a tough line to straddle and for an example of a film that doesn’t quite get the balance right I’ve cited Waitress. Juno and Bleeker’s conversations flow organically; Jenna and Dr. Pomatter’s conversations in Waitress feel too self-conscious. In Juno, all the actors mentioned above, plus the likes of Olivia Thirlby and Michael Cera, are really great. The line deliveries feel right and the emotion is always dialed to just the right level. Really any of the supporting characters could have deservedly ended up as an acting nominee, particularly Jennifer Garner after the incredible scene in the mall.

Ellen Page received a fitting Best Actress nomination and she had a great shot at winning. Her performance is alternately cocksure and subtle as needed and it’s really her that makes Juno the wonderful character she is.

Besides Page and Cody, director Jason Reitman landed an Oscar nod and the film was also nominated for Best Picture. I think too often it got pooh-poohed for being a token comedy nomination, but it’s one of my favorite movies of 2007 so take that token and shove it. So what if it isn’t as weighty as Oscar-nominated films usually are? It’s very well-crafted and I dug its tone, comedy, and depth.

Also I give special commendation to the song choices, which set the right tone while also being darn enjoyable in their own right. The snobs still say they’re too precious but even my mom, with whom I’ve never had a music discussion in my life, raved about how perfectly it fit the film.

As an ending note, one funny piece of semi-Juno backlash comes from the Urban Dictionary definition of “honest to blog.”

An annoying phrase that hipster-wannabes use to add to the credibility of a statement or check the credibility of another person’s statement.
It is a play on the phrase “Honest to god” that refers to the fact that blogs have been reputed as fact checkers in recent years.

Example 1 –
Hipster wannabe: “I just read Allen Ginsberg’s latest book of poetry. Honest to blog it is the best he’s written yet.”
Hipster: “Um, Allen Ginsberg is dead… and don’t use that phrase, it’s fucking annoying.”

Example 2 –
Person: “I just got my second face lift in three years.”
Hipster wannabe: “Honest to blog?”
Person: “Yea… and don’t say that, it’s fucking annoying.”

A lot more clever than most of the silly criticisms lobbed Juno’s way.

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