Wednesday, January 9, 2008

On Juno: Kudos to Diablo Cody

With all the hype over the movie Juno, I went last week with a combination of excitement and hopelessly raised expectations. Hell, my expectations were raised so high, I feared there was no way I could leave the theater anything but disappointed.

I was thrilled to find that I was so, so wrong. Because in the end, for all its quirkiness and overwrought dialogue, it was all about the love. Comforting, non-sappy love.

Caught midway between girl- and womanhood and named for a Roman goddess, Juno's all bitten nails and ponytails and a healthy respect for The Kinks and a dollop of self-conscious snappy banter.

J.K. Simmons and Alison Janney cracked me up as her parents. Alternatively smart and funny, dour and real, they were your best friend's parents, the ones you used to always see as you ran up the steps on the way up to your friend's room to hide out for hours listening to music and thinking deep thoughts.

Step-Mom Bren's deferred canine dreams. Dad's quirky name selection process for his children. Their simple, cluttered house.

Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman as the yuppie adoptive-parents-to-be were believable as a McMansion-dwelling couple.

And Bleeker. Michael Cera was just perfect in Arrested Development (RIP), and he's just as perfect here. Maybe he's merely portraying slight variants of himself, capitalizing on all the nostalgia that all the screenwriters in their 30s are looking back on. I mean, I knew boys exactly like this in high school. Was friends with and fell in love with them.

The line "I don't know what kind of girl I am," delivered with such a mixture of confusion and earnestness and dismay. Lovely, Ellen Page. Just lovely.

And the way Juno's Dad talks about love? It just opens up your heart and makes you realize what we all yearn for.

There have been complaints in reviews I've read that "Nobody talks like this," and that the characters' musings have been way off the mark. That may be true, but do you really want to watch a movie with someone just sitting there, thinking about how they need to buy toilet paper and raisins at the grocery store? No.

If you want an entertaining story that keeps you engaged and offers some surprises, whether they occur in the story line, the dialogue or both, then Diablo Cody's writing delivers.

I can't wait to see what other movies she has up her sleeve.

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