No one's more interested in finding the next Little Miss Sunshine than its studio, Fox Searchlight. After giving it a go this summer with multiple screenings in multiple cities of Waitress (reviewed here), they try it again with Juno. (Catch a screening near you.)
It's very cute and surprisingly genuine. Juno (Ellen Page) is a Minnesota teen who kinda likes her male friend Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera, consistently working the running short-shorts look), but she's mostly concerned that he got her pregnant. Despite having a father (J.K. Simmons) and stepmother (Allison Janney) with a wealth of understanding and good sense, Juno still feels alone in her quest to determine a proper fate for her baby.
Enter potential adoptive couple Mark and Vanessa (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner), but as the film progresses -- cleverly, it's divided into trimesters -- the plot thickens, and we learn more about what everyone really wants. While Juno and Mark bond (platonically) over their eclectic pop cultural tastes, Vanessa is by-the-book about motherhood, and so ready for it, at least in theory. It's fascinating to see her try desperately to retain control in an environment that for many reasons can be called sterile.
At a taut 91 minutes -- brevity alert -- the movie covers a lot of territory, and it's nice to see human lives that come across as real and complicated without the intervention of any plot-eating tragedy. Credit the awesomely-named screenwriter and former stripper Diablo Cody for her choice of situation and dialogue that traverses a delicate line between bittersweet and sweet.