Ellen Page (center) is brilliant as the pregnant teen who decides to give her baby to suburbanites in <em>Juno</em>.

Seen in some quarters as the feminist reply to Superbad or Knocked Up, Juno seems more like the film that actually speaks like the kids-only even more so. It comes equipped with its own special hip factor; one that automatically assumes that teens are not merely our future, they’re our present. Even the grown-ups in Juno are busy trying to think and be young. Jason Bateman does a wistful, thoroughly convincing turn as Mark, a former rocker who knows he’s sold out to find suburbia, and when young Juno’s crusty but benign dad (J.K. Simmons) wants to make a point, he self-consciously talks about being all up in somebody’s shit. “Isn’t that what you say?” he asks. When Juno (Ellen Page, the brilliant star of Hard Candy) tells her best friend Leah (Olivia Thirlby) she’s pregnant, Leah admonishes Juno not to tell her folks because then they’ll have to answer a lot of dumb questions about being sexually active. “Whatever that means,” she adds, rolling her eyes.

The quips are strewn generously throughout this gorgeous first-time script by former stripper/blogger Diablo Cody. The discourse is true street poetry, like a Raymond Chandler novel, or an early Coen Brothers film. Last year’s most under-appreciated film, Brick-a film noir set in a high school-developed the same idea, creating a world where teenspeak is Shakespearean, cryptic, and hilarious. And while Juno is not quite so reliant on the thrill factor, it’s richer than all of the gloriously profane teen sexuality films of 2007-and that’s saying a mouthful.

But the true measure of this great movie by Jason Reitman (his sophomore curse is hereby revoked) is its heart. After all the talk, talk, talk, you get a shot of Juno driving the family minivan and crying after learning that Mark plans to leave his wife (played with unexpected subtlety by Jennifer Garner). The film clings hard to the notion that families aren’t all nuclear, but love could possibly be universal, and that kids, even when grown-ups are all up in their shit, still say the darnedest things.

For showtimes, check the Independent‘s movie listings, here.


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