During its early moments, Jason Reitman's second feature threatens to choke on its quotation-marks catchphrases, as when The Office's Rainn Wilson, cameoing as a convenience-store clerk, tells Ellen Page's 16-year-old Juno MacGuff that her positive pregnancy test is "one doodle that can't be undid, home skillet." Or when Juno describes the perfect adoptive parents as a "cool graphic designer, mid-30s, with a cool Asian girlfriend who totally rocks the bass," then adds, "But I don't want to be too particular." She also digs McSweeney's, Iggy and the Stooges, and Dario Argento's Suspiria. Arch? Yes. But after a little while, the movie calms down and finds its center — no, its heart. Indeed, once it works its way through the lookatme! snark, Juno gradually evolves into a thing of beauty and grace. By the end, it's unexpectedly moving without ever once have trolled for crocodile tears. And it's full of uniformly astounding performances (from J.K. Simmons, especially, as Juno's supportive dad). Page, channeling Linda Cardellini's character from Freaks and Geeks, finds her way into — and past, way past — those early clever-clever lines to burrow deep into Juno's skin until she finds her soul.
Jason ReitmanEllen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Olivia Thirlby, Jason Bateman, Allison Janney, Daniel Clark, Valerie TianDiablo CodyLianne Halfon, John Malkovich, Mason Novick, Russell SmithFox Searchlight