There are not many well-made movies on teenage pregnancy, despite the fact that it is a situation that girls face more often than the society would like to admit. And even more importantly, there are not very many well-made, comical movies on the subject, which deliver their message without getting preachy. The 2007 release Juno happens to be one such film, starring erstwhile Ellen Page, now Elliot Page, as the titular character who gets pregnant with her friend Paulie’s (Michael Cera) baby.
What steps does Juno take, the opinions she encounters and the way things change for her after this life-altering event is what the entire plot of Juno is hinged upon. There is a pro-life and pro-choice moment that comes early in the film, where Juno encounters an anti-abortion placard outside the clinic. However, after weighing her options, Juno decides not to abort the child and give the baby up to some willing childless couple who will be able to provide it with a better future. Enter Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner, the rich and childless husband-wife who sign a closed adoption deal with Juno and her guardians.
While Juno does have a happy ending, it offers no simple solutions to the tricky question of teenage pregnancy. What do you do when you don’t want to give up the future, but also want to provide for the unborn child? And how do you maintain a relationship with the father of the child, who is also a teenager. Especially when you both have similar unvoiced feelings for each other? How does your family react, or what is the kind of equation that you share with the new parents of your child? What happens when their marriage collapses, forcing you to reconsider your life’s decisions? These are heavy-weight questions, but filmmaker Jason Reitman dealt with all these issues in the most attentive, witty and realistic way possible.
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Over the years, Juno has been on both ends of spectrum on the topic of childbirth. While some critics have called it out for being an anti-abortion movie, some felt it was a pro choice film. However Page himself had said at one point that Juno is about exercising your right to do what you want with your body. “What I get most frustrated at is when people call it a pro-life movie, which is just absurd….The most important thing is the choice is there, and the film completely demonstrates that,” he had said. Later, writer Diablo Cody also stated that there is no one way to look at Juno, and she is right. Juno is a movie about celebrating a conscious, smart and funny girl who is coming into her own. It is also a feature where you get to see a strong character in a complicated situation go through the drill and come out happy in the end. What can be more life affirming than that?
You can watch Juno on Amazon Prime Video.