It's a tough, tough tightrope act -- to make a film that navigates the minefield of precocious adolescent irony and still manages to be humane with loving characters who act realistically. A movie that confronts the collision of innocence with maturity ("viscera", "junk" and all) without going all American Pie on us.
In terms of style, Juno's very much in what I suppose would be the New New Geek cinema mould, with nods to 1970s coming of age films like Harold and Maude or the quirky stylization of a Royal Tenenbaums. Because of the core values, though, it's a movie that may even go over well in Red America, without trending toward Afterschool Playhouse in any way. Also, being about teenage pregnancy, it has to deal with the abortion issue in fairly short order, and it dispenses with it in a much more credible way than, say, Knocked Up.
With the exception of an improbable scene with a convenience store clerk in the first five minutes (involving buying the pregnancy test), where it seems to me director Reitman and the screenwriter try a wee bit too hard to establish the character of their young heroine as hip and streetwise (all the world's a small town, hm?), Juno obeys the logic of its characterization as well as the logic of real life.
In a way it's like Ghost World -- you know, where a alienated girl develops a relationship consummated through rock and roll records with an older, even more outcast male -- except there's a fetus.
That new life growing inside Juno renders categories like geek and cool irrelevant. Also, "the characters are off sex" and thus shenanigans and triangles don't really distract as they would in other youth movies.
Of course, the older, understanding male, played by Jason Bateman, is very cool, and as a guy in my 30s, myself a little too old for rock stardom but in search of a little studio niche amid my family life, I also developed... an affinity with Bateman's character as the prospective adoptive father. If there is perhaps a weakness in character consistency, it is a plot twist involving his character, but who knows -- so ably does the film get us into its characters that we are pretty subjective by the closing -- like Juno, we want both of the adoptive parents to prove OK, and for there to be a happy ending.
Juno is currently the only nominee for Best Picture to not be in the pipeline for a run in Estonia, probably because of its indie image. Hopefully they will get it sussed out by the time the statuette is handed to Reitman.