By Fred Topel | Image property of Fox Searchlight Pictures.
Well, here's how you make a comedy about teen pregnancy and abortion. I keep seeing every taboo slowly whittled away. First Benigni blew my mind with his Holocaust comedy. South Park has done Terry Schiavo, 9/11 and unthinkable other topics. Now Juno picks up the slack.
By never settling on a tone, Juno has its fun with all sides of the equation. It's not pro choice but it makes fun of an abortion protestor. It's not anti-abortion but it has the heroine decide to keep it. It's not pro-adoption though because it makes fun of the prospective couple's neuroses. Any superiority is justified with clever, insightful humor. Otherwise it would be self-righteous.
The script has characters talk around the issue but remain clear and direct about exactly what they're really discussing. It has a blaze' attitude but remains clever and poignant about the real issues at its heart.
Characters are irreverent about their sensitive situation but never unloving towards each other. While Juno's parents agree with her decision to give the baby up for adoption, they are quick to chastise the ultrasound technician who judges her.
The whole style of dialogue is off beat. They mix slang words of all different generations and cultures, and even make up some new ones. People talk around something for a minute before revealing that everyone knows exactly what's going on anyway.
Amid all this humor, there is the real drama of the desperate adoptive parents. It is not overdone. It is just really powerful and real dealing with their changing emotions, their overcompensations, their denial. They are complicated like real life rarely is because real people are just superficial.
Juno is a brilliant comedy. Most can only strive for such a blend of biting wit, palatable social commentary and deep emotion. Juno has it all.