Jason Reitman has just verified that he is one of the smartest directors out there. It is hard to believe how good 'Thank You For Smoking' is. It is easily one of the best written (he wrote it) and best directed films of recent times. And he chose Aaron Eckhart to play the smoking lobbyist. I cannot think of anyone else playing that role better. The film is so good it is almost too hard to watch as you are constantly admiring the sheer brashness and gaul of the director. At the age of 31, Reitman hopefully has a long career in front of him.

But this post is about Juno, the 'little miss sunshine' of 2008: A quirky comedy that is mildly offensive, very smart, brilliantly cast and made by the indi arm of a big studio (Fox Searchlight).

Juno subscribes to the recently popular 'pregnancy' sub-genre. It is either too easy (Knocked up) or too hard (Then I found Him) and anyone who has tried it in real life knows that it is neither -- it is just that it only happens when you don't want it to. Pregnancy sub-genre follows well-defined stages of grief ranging from disbelief, denial, anger, melting to eventually, deliverance via delivery. Juno is, if not novel, certainly the smartest of such films. It succeeds because it is one of the few where you don't end up hating the characters (specially the mother) by the end of it. Ellen Page (who doesn't need any more press) clearly acts as if she knows what she is doing which is more than one can say about what Heigl (Knocked-up) and others.

What also uplifts Juno is an amazingly quirky yet effective soundtrack. It is fresh, campy, very high-school in spirit that seems to fit the film wonderfully well. It does get annoying very quickly though, as most things 'teenage' do but it has a warmth that is otherwise hard to find.

However, the single-most winning facet of Juno is that Page's character understands, right from the beginning, that raising a child is not for her. While she goes through the usual emotional upheaval she never really identifies with motherhood and stands by her somewhat unusual decision. What let me down though is that she (Juno) does seem to find love or something like that in the sorry loser played by the sorry loser Michael Cera.

Juno redeems itself by not indulging in the redemption of its heroin.

Juno makes little attempt at understanding why children are somehow out-of-fashion now. It does make an attempt to show why they are out-of-fashion by showing that we are a society of such fierce hedonists that in order to chase are baser biological wants we've somehow managed to lose sight of our real biological needs.