Never underestimate the power of words. What they may lack in substance, they make up for with the ability to inspire various concrete interpretations. Whereas one person might believe actions to be the determining agent of character, another might find human language to be the only true window to a person’s heart.

Jason Reitman’s teen drama “Juno” seems to be the perfect embodiment of this ambivalence, as the words of critics and bloggers alike have managed to simultaneously propel the film from relative obscurity to an Oscar hopeful and dismiss it as nothing more than an unwarranted beneficiary of the near-sighted media-hype machine.

And words are just what “Juno” prides itself on. Featuring some of the most original dialogue in recent film history, Diablo Cody’s debut screenplay has garnered the film most of its unanticipated attention, earning the former stripper an Oscar nomination for “Best Original Screenplay” and immediately boosting her to the top of the Hollywood stratosphere. It may take a while to get used to, but there’s no denying the quirky verbiage and AIM-inspired banter of Ellen Page and company. Like OMG, it will totally make you LOL with your BFFs!

The film follows loquacious 16-year-old Juno (played by Page) as she wanders aimlessly around her boring town drinking blue slurpies and mistakenly getting knocked up by her best guy friend Bleeker (played by the quintessential king of awkwardness and one of my most revered man crushes, Michael Cera).

After sporadically deciding to have the baby and give it up for adoption, Juno becomes close with the soon-to-be adoptive parents played by Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman, eventually exposing them for the conventional and uninteresting couple they are. It is her friendship with Mark (Bateman) that is especially meaningful, as their shared passion for punk rock (he prefers Sonic Youth, she prefers The Stooges) and horror flicks (she likes Dario Argento, he likes Herschel Gordon Lewis) results in some near-pedophilic moments that open Mark’s eyes to the dull suburbanite he has become and Juno’s eyes to the possibility of a loving relationship that’s been right in front of her all along.

In the year of tongue-tied teenagers, “Juno” pales in comparison to the finely-tuned Judd Apatow machine, emerging as somewhat of a softened concoction of “Superbad” and “Knocked Up,” yet still original enough to be considered subversive and fashionable in its own right.

It’s good, no doubt. It’s cute and original and quirky and may even make you want to have a child yourself (JK!). It has a great soundtrack, awesome references to popular culture, convincing and star-turning performances and an ending that is 10 times more sincere and heartfelt than anything an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” can offer.

It’s just that, in terms of sheer hilarity and sincerity, it’s nowhere close to either “Superbad” or “Knocked Up.” Yet, it is this film that gets all the attention (including a Best Picture nomination, mind you) from the so-called “Academy,” whatever the hell that means, which goes to show you, once again, that whoever’s behind this idiotic awards ceremony can’t spot youth culture if it kicked one of those old bastards in the groin.

But, then again, these are just words, and my words are no more important than the next guy’s, and this is just a movie, and everything I say is just a hackneyed attempt to sound quirky and sassy like Juno. And you just read this whole article. Bummer.

Milbrand is a member of the class of 2008.



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