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'Juno' Presents Fresh Perspective on Teenage Pregnancy


A comedy about a pregnant teenager is drawing critical acclaim and awards attention as its quirky charm wins over audiences at American movie theaters. Alan Silverman has a look at Juno.

Juno is 16-years-old with a wry and clever sense of humor (that she gets from her dad, Mac); but the ignorance and carelessness of her youth gets her into a situation that is hardly funny.

Understandably, her dad and stepmother are thrown for a loop by the news.

However, they support her choice to have the baby and let a childless couple adopt it.

Young Canadian actress Ellen Page stars as the title character.

"She is honest. She is so herself and it is so unbelievably refreshing to have that in film and popular media," Page explains.

"What I like about it is that it's tackling an issue that we often treat as this really heavy, dark event and we look at it with a different perspective, like this girl does," she adds. "She's extremely independent. She goes and finds adoptive parents before she even tells her parents that she's pregnant. I just think it's nice to not always dwell in darkness, which can often be so much easier. That doesn't really say anything about teenage pregnancy, but it's not a political film. It's a story. It's one girl's decision."

As much as Juno reflects a reality of some teenage attitudes, there are also plenty of real world counterparts to the 'yuppie' couple she has found to adopt her baby: Mark, played by Jason Bateman and Vanessa, played by Jennifer Garner.

"My character is kind of an uptight woman who wants to have a baby and she can't, so she wants to adopt the baby of this really wild 16-year-old," Garner explains. "You believe that in my marriage with Jason Bateman (which makes me laugh even to say it out loud), you believe that I'm really uptight and hard and he is really cool and loosey-goosey; then as the movie goes on you realize that the relationship is different than what it seems."

In fact, Juno is filled with surprises from its characters and situations ...something the entire cast credits to first-time screenwriter Diablo Cody.

"I draw from life experiences," Cody explains." I always say that I'm a scavenger; so I sometimes even feel that I can not particularly take credit for any authenticity that people attribute to my characters because I really and am just taking from life. I listen to people. I've always been more of an observer than a participator, actually. I just shamelessly crib from life's rich bounty."

Director Jason Reitman says that authenticity helps the film deal with its sensitive subject.

"It is not really about pregnancy. Pregnancy is kind of a location," he says. "This is a movie about the moment you decide to grow up and the moment you decide to become an adult. We're living in a time when 16-year-old girls grow up too fast and 30-year-old men seem never to grow up.

" You have this 16-year-old girl who is offered the real opportunity to become an adult. Like that, she can have a kid and start to live the adult life. Simultaneously, you have a couple with a guy who is terrified to grow up and a woman who doesn't quite feel like she is a woman until she has a baby. It is a story that allows all of the characters to react in a very human way and in original way. It's a screenplay in which every time there is a decision to be made or a line of dialog to be said it is unusual ...exciting ...against what I ever thought was going to happen and was, obviously, hilarious."

Juno also features Michael Cera as Bleeker, Juno's naïve but good-hearted boyfriend. J.K. Simmons and Alison Janney co-star as her parents; and the soundtrack is an eclectic mix of current and vintage rock that mirrors the independent taste of the title character.