Teen pregnancy may not seem to be the best focus for a teen comedy, but it's the starting point of Juno. This movie is both amusing and serious, though I had my problems with the protagonist.

Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) is a 16-year-old high school student who seems smart, independent, and outspoken. She lives with her father Mac (J.K. Simmons) and stepmom Brenda (Allison Janney) and hangs out with friends Leah (Olivia Thirlby) and Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera, practically a staple of the deeper teen movie these days). In fact, one night of intimacy with Paulie and Juno soon finds herself pregnant.

Following a trip to an abortion clinic, Juno decides to give the baby to a deserving couple. She and Leah scour the Pennysaver and find the perfect couple: Mark Loring (Jason Bateman) and Vanessa Loring (Jennifer Garner), a seemingly ideal upper-class couple.

Juno has several balls in the air: How will pregnancy affect Juno's life at school? What's going on between Juno and Paulie? What of the cracks that gradually appear in Mark and Vanessa's relationship?

Audiences fell in love with Ellen Page's spunky young teen, but I found her grating: Everything she says is clever and pointed, her pregnancy seldom seems like more than an inconvenience, and she has an air of superiority to everyone. When Mark asks her, "Pretentious much?" I had to agree wholeheartedly.

And yet, the rest of Juno is quite satisfying. The supporting cast is near perfect. Michael Cera once again shows how well he can play the quiet, slightly befuddled teen. Simmons and Janney are perfect as the parents who find themselves suddenly dealing with the unexpected (after hearing the news, they have this conversation in private: "Did you see that coming?" "Yeah... but I was hoping she was expelled, or into hard drugs." "That was my first instinct too. Or a DWI... anything but this!") And Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner steal the movie for me: She's the wannabe mom who obsesses over every part of Juno's pregnancy, while he seems happy just watching slasher movies and talking about great music.

Juno also has plenty of humor, from the silent chorus of jogging teen males in red shirts and gold shorts to teens acting normal (trying to act normal?) in the middle of this whirlwind of a circumstance. I think the movie does underplay the seriousness of teen pregnancy, and the protagonist's coolness felt false, but there's plenty in Juno to enjoy.

Overall grade: B

Reviewed by James Lynch

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