13 Phenomenal Facts About Juno
Made for only $6.5 million, Juno defied expectations when it grossed $231 million worldwide and earned four Oscar nominations, including a nod for Best Picture. (It was the first Fox Searchlight film to surpass $100 million at the box office.) Jason Reitman directed Ellen Page as the titular teenager who gets impregnated by her friend, Paulie (Michael Cera). She decides to carry the baby to full term and then adopt it to married couple Mark and Vanessa Loring (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner).
Diablo Cody, a one-time stripper who wrote the 2005 book Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper, wrote the screenplay (her first) and won the 2008 Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. The film became a pop culture phenomenon, largely because of its strong cast, witty dialogue, catchy soundtrack, and how it depicted teen pregnancy as something positive instead of life-destroying. Here are 13 facts about the hit indie dramedy.
1. THE SCRIPT WAS "DEEPLY PERSONAL" FOR DIABLO CODY.
The scribe based the story on her own life and wanted to tell a story that was “different” from the rest of Hollywood movies. “Juno is like a personal, emotional scavenger hunt for me," Cody told The Telegraph. "I dragged so many of my own experiences into it that I'm shocked the movie is so coherent. I managed to get every person, quirk, and object that has meaning in my life into the script. I wanted to make it deeply personal. I didn't want it to be generic."
2. MICHAEL CERA LIKED THE FORMAT OF THE SCRIPT.
In an interview with Collider, Michael Cera said that one reason he wanted to star in the movie was because the script was written like a book. “I remember certain paragraphs were just broken up oddly and that kind of … I was like, oh, it’s not like reading a script,” he said. “It’s more like a book. That kind of made me want to do the movie. I thought, well, if it’s written oddly, if it’s not written like a script, then it’s got to be a good movie.”
3. ELLEN PAGE DOESN’T CONSIDER IT A PRO-LIFE MOVIE.
The film takes an apolitical stance on teen pregnancy, but Page gets upset when “people call it a pro-life movie,” she told the Toronto Star. “In other words, that it’s anti-abortion,” she said. “That’s just not true. To me, it’s not a political film. I never thought about that when we were making it. Sometimes I even forget she’s pregnant. The most important thing is the choice is there and the film completely demonstrates that. It allows a scene in an abortion clinic, for goodness sake. A lot of films probably wouldn’t do that.”
At a live reading of the movie earlier this year, Cody told Vanity Fair that it “disturbed” her how people considered Juno to be “an anti-choice movie. In a way, I feel like I had a responsibility to maybe be more explicitly pro-choice, and I wasn’t … I think I took the right to choose for granted at the time."
4. ALLISON JANNEY APPRECIATED THE NON-STEREOTYPICAL STEPMOTHER ROLE.
The actress plays Juno’s stepmother, Bren, who surprisingly supports her stepdaughter’s pregnancy and then forms a relationship with her. “I kept waiting for the Evil Stepmother to make it hard for Juno, and then she didn't,” Janney said. “Diablo herself was a stepmother, too, and I think she wanted to debunk the Evil Stepmother myth and take that in a whole new direction.” Janney references Juno’s ultrasound scene, when Bren becomes protective of her daughter. “There's something wonderful about Diablo; she does not seem to judge any of her characters. And then the one woman who crosses a line is the one I get to tear into, which is always fun to do as an actor.”
5. THE “JUNO EFFECT” MAY OR MAY NOT BE REAL.
Around the time the movie was released, Gloucester High School in Massachusetts noticed an increase in teen pregnancies. The school’s principal, Dr. Joseph Sullivan, told TIME several young women “made a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together.” The media dubbed it “The Juno Effect.” In 2008, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards told Entertainment Weekly the teen birthrate was increasing. However, since then, teen pregnancies have been on the decline.
6. JUNO IS SORT OF AN ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT REUNION.
Cera and Bateman played father-son on Arrested Development. In the movie they do not share any scenes together, but Bateman joked to MTV that it would’ve been strange “if I were adopting my son’s child ... At one point we were joking that Michael would walk by in the background of a scene and I would do a double-take as if to be like, ‘I know that guy from somewhere!’ But we never ended up doing that.”
7. DIABLO CODY APOLOGIZED FOR THE DIANA ROSS LINE.
Juno says that her dad named her after Zeus’ wife. She tells him Juno “was supposed to be really beautiful but really mean, like Diana Ross.” At an April all-female cast live reading of the script, Cody told Vanity Fair she “felt bad” about the line, and when she wrote it she thought celebrities didn’t have feelings. “I want to apologize,” she said. To make things weirder, Ross’ daughter, Tracee Ellis Ross, also participated in the reading. “My God! You couldn’t cut it out for the reading? Seriously? That’s my mom for God’s sake,” Ellis Ross joked after Page read the line.
8. THE SOUNDTRACK SOLD MORE THAN 1 MILLION COPIES.
Kimya Dawson—along with Sonic Youth, The Kinks, Belle and Sebastian, Cat Power—had songs featured on the film's two soundtracks (the second one being Juno B-Sides: Almost Adopted Songs). The first one was a big hit—it went platinum. Dawson, who plays in The Moldy Peaches, was discovered through her paintings. Three years before the movie came out, Dawson painted a picture for future Juno casting director Kara Lipson. Page was a big fan of The Moldy Peaches and recommended the band to Reitman. Lipson heard he was trying to track Dawson down. “So she just e-mailed me and was like, ‘Hey, remember me? I ordered a painting,’” Dawson told Entertainment Weekly. “She sent me a copy of [Reitman’s first feature] Thank You for Smoking and the [Juno] screenplay. And then, once I’d watched Thank You for Smoking and read the screenplay, I was like, ‘Okay, cool.’ I liked that movie, and this is a nice story about family and pregnancy and all that business that I like.”
9. NAPOLEON DYNAMITE INFLUENCED CODY, BUT NOT THE DIRECTOR.
Four years before Juno was released, Napoleon Dynamite, another micro-budgeted film that grossed a lot of money, inspired Cody. “Napoleon Dynamite was the successful indie movie. And I saw it, and I went, okay, I’ll write something like that. But I’ll make Napoleon a girl,” she told Vanity Fair.
But Reitman didn’t understand the Napoleon comparisons. “I actually see none of Napoleon Dynamite in this,” he told ComingSoon.net. “There’s a realness to this movie that Napoleon never had.” In fact, he’d compare it to Election. “I think there’s a lot of Mark stuff that’s drawn from Matthew Broderick’s character in Election—the humiliation."
10. JENNIFER GARNER’S CHARACTER WASN’T THAT COLD.
Garner’s Vanessa wants to adopt Juno’s baby. At first she comes across as cold, but eventually softens. “There’s somebody I was basing it on who maybe came across as cold or controlling, but was really just trying so hard to do the right thing,” Garner told Entertainment Weekly. “What happens in this movie forces the character to open up bit by bit. I think she just wants this baby, and she thinks the way to go about it is to be as appealingly Leave It to Beaver as possible. And she just forgets to add the human being in there.”
11. THE MOVIE ISN’T REALLY ABOUT TEEN PREGNANCY.
“We didn’t intend to make a movie about teen pregnancy and the options available to people who find themselves in that situation,” Cody told NPR. “We just wanted to tell a personal story about maturity and relationships. And the pregnancy just kind of motivates the story."
12. NEITHER PAGE NOR CODY WAS FAMILIAR WITH SOUPY SALES.
Juno references the famous comedian in the movie, even though Page—and possibly Cody—had no idea who he was. “I always wonder about that line because I think, 'No way would any teenager reference Soupy Sales,'” Cody told PopMatters, “but it always gets a laugh. I’m always aware of my own failings as a writer. I’m not even quite sure who Soupy Sales is.” Page said, “I had no idea it was even someone.”
13. HAMBURGER PHONE SALES INCREASED.
Because Juno liked to talk on a hamburger phone, the studio thought it would be a fun marketing ploy to send out promotional hamburger phones. Australians sold the phones on eBay, and eBay in the U.S. said demand for the phone jumped 759 percent right after Juno was released in theaters. The phone currently sells on Amazon for $14.95.