“Juno,” the first produced script by Chicago-born 29-year-old screenwriter Diablo Cody (nee Brooke Busey) is hell-bent for “Heathers,” and it attains the same sort of baroque, inflated comic patois with memorable comic eloquence that seems to hang on by only a closing quotation mark. (That is so not a bad thing.) Sixteen-year-old Juno McDuff (Ellen Page) gets pregnant the first time she has sex, by her best friend and super-crush Bleeker (Michael Cera), and decides to advertise in the Penny Saver for the ideal adoptive couple (who Juno envisions: “I was thinking a graphic designer, mid-thirties, and his cool Asian wife who dresses awesome and plays bass. But I’m trying not to be too particular.” (Dr. Johnson, the dog speaks!) Page, five-one and all of 20, is one of the marvels of movies today. On the basis of “Mouth to Mouth,” “Tracey in Fragments,” “An American Crime,” “Hard Candy” and especially the sweet-sour brackish girl intelligence Page breathes into Cody’s woozy words, Page can and should do anything—anyone this preternaturally assured, forceful, funny and just breathtakingly alive ought to be endlessly enabled by the film industry. (I hope she has a directorial career, not stymied like Jodie Foster’s, and as promising as her fellow Canadian Sarah Polley’s after “Away From Her.”) “Juno” looks as crummy as Jason Reitman’s debut, “Thank You For Smoking,” but he does nothing to get in the way of this script: “Jocks like him always want freaky girls. Girls with horn-rimmed glasses and vegan footwear and Goth makeup. Girls who play the cello and wear Converse All-Stars and want to be children’s librarians when they grow up. Oh yeah, jocks eat that shit up. They just won’t admit it, because they’re supposed to be into perfect cheerleaders like Leah. Who, incidentally, is into teachers.” The cast is sterling, including Alison Janney as Juno’s step-mom, the ever-brilliant J. K. Simmons as Mr. McDuff, an earnest Jennifer Garner as the wanna-mom and a silkily subdued Jason Bateman as the not-quite-mature dad-in-waiting. (Ray Pride)
“Juno” opens Friday.