Winter. We see the track team running around the track. Paulie Bleeker is running along when another runner comes up alongside him and asks if he heard that Juno is pregnant. He has. “Did you know it’s yours?” the runner asks. “Yep,” he responds. The other boy tells him that he should grow a mustache, then runs off. We see a school administrator looking at Juno’s pregnant belly with judgment. In the hall, Juno runs into Bleecker, who invites her to go to a movie with some friends. She can’t go because she has her ultrasound later. Bleecker asks if he should come, and Juno tells him that he doesn’t have to, but that she’ll drop by his house later. The school bell rings and they say goodbye.
The scene shifts and we see a nurse giving Juno an ultrasound. Bren holds Juno’s hand as the nurse points out different parts of the baby on the screen nearby. Leah remarks on the size of the baby’s head to which Juno quips, “Look, I am a sacred vessel. All you have in your stomach is Taco Bell.” The nurse looks at her skeptically and asks if she wants to know the baby’s sex. Juno tells her that she wants Mark and Vanessa to be surprised, and when the nurse asks who Mark and Vanessa are, Juno informs her that they are the adoptive parents. “Oh, well thank goodness for that,” says the nurse. Bren becomes defensive and wants to know what the nurse means. The nurse tells them that she sees a lot of teen mothers and that being a teenager is “obviously a poisonous environment to raise a baby in.” Juno is offended, and asks how the nurse knows that she would be a poisonous mother. “What if these adoptive parents turn out to be like evil molesters?” she asks. “Or stage parents,” adds Leah. “Maybe they’ll do a far shittier job of raising a kid than my dumbass stepdaughter ever would, have you considered that?” Bren says. Bren then launches into a defensive monologue diminishing the ultrasound technician and suggesting that she ought to stick to her job instead of passing judgment on her patients. Juno and Leah marvel at Bren’s gall.
We see Juno lying in bed, looking at her ultrasound picture. The scene shifts and we see her driving to Mark and Vanessa’s house. Mark answers the door and is surprised to see Juno standing there. She tells him she has something exciting to show him, and asks if Vanessa’s home. Mark tells Juno Vanessa’s working late before inviting Juno in for a juice. When Juno asks Mark why he isn’t at work, he tells her that he works from home because he’s a composer for commercials. “Quite the sellout,” Juno teases him. She then holds up the picture of the ultrasound and Mark looks at his future child, marveling at it. Suddenly, Mark gets excited that the Sonic Youth cover of “Superstar” by the Carpenters is playing on his sound system, and he turns it up to play for Juno. He asks Juno what her favorite band is, and she tells him it’s a tie between The Stooges, Patti Smith, and The Runaways. Juno picks up a movie called The Wizard of Gore, by a filmmaker that Mark insists is the “ultimate master of horror.” Juno counters that Dario Argento is the true master of horror, but Mark disagrees. Mark and Juno watch The Wizard of Gore together, and Juno changes her mind and decides that it’s a good movie.
Juno turns to Mark and asks if they’ve considered any names for the baby. He tells her that Vanessa likes “Madison” for a girl, which Juno tells him is “a little gay.” Mark questions Juno about the fact that she has a special name, and Juno explains that her dad was obsessed with Greek and Roman mythology, and so named her after Zeus’ wife. Juno tells him, “She was supposed to be really beautiful, but really mean…like Diana Ross,” to which Mark responds, “That suits you.” The two share an awkwardly intimate moment, when suddenly Vanessa gets home. Juno goes to greet Vanessa, who is surprised to see her. Juno gives her the ultrasound, and Vanessa looks at it, amazed at the sight of her future baby.
Vanessa then shows Juno and Mark a bunch of items that she purchased at the store for the baby. When Juno wonders why they wouldn’t just wait for people to give them the items at a baby shower, Vanessa suggests that people don’t know how to approach it because the arrival of the baby “is not set in stone.” Juno is surprised and insists that she isn’t going to “flake out” on them, but Vanessa tells her that they went through a disappointment in the past with adoption, so are staying cautious. Juno recommends that they go to China to get a baby, because adoptive children are so much more available, and Vanessa suggests that Juno return home. Juno leaves, and Mark and Vanessa exchange a look.
Back at home, Juno finds Bren making a collage with pictures of dogs from magazines. Bren asks where Juno has been, and is surprised to hear that she was at Mark and Vanessa’s, insisting that she could have mailed the ultrasound rather than driven out to visit them. Juno tells Bren that she had a nice time hanging out with Mark, that they watched a movie and he burned her some CDs. Taking a deep breath, Bren tells her, “Juno, you can’t just drop in on them like that…You don’t understand, Mark is a married man. There are boundaries.” Juno is indignant and insists that she is allowed to be friends with a married person. “It doesn’t work that way kiddo. You don’t know squat about the dynamics of marriage,” Bren insists. Frustrated, Juno taunts Bren about her obsession with dogs and leaves.
Juno goes to Bleeker’s house. Bleeker’s judgmental mom admits her and she runs up to Bleeker’s room. There, she tells him that she wants to hang out and sits down on his bean bag chair as he downs a mouthful of orange Tic-Tacs, his “one and only vice.” Juno tells Bleeker about Mark and Vanessa, gushing about how cool Mark is and the fact that they hung out that afternoon. “Is that normal?” Bleeker asks, and Juno tells him, “Probably not.” She then tells him that her dad and Bren have agreed not to let Bleeker’s parents know that he is the father, before asking if he’ll still think she’s cute when she’s “huge.” “I always think you’re cute…I think you’re beautiful,” he tells her. After the two of them plan to get their band back together, Bleeker suggests, “I mean, we could always get back together too.” Juno is confused, and immediately starts thinking of someone else that Bleeker could go out with. Bleeker doesn’t want to go out with anyone else though.
The scene shifts and we see Vanessa showing Mark two different shades of yellow that she’s painted on the baby’s bedroom. Mark is not very interested in choosing between them, but Vanessa tells him that preparing the room is an important process for the woman, especially when adopting. Mark doesn’t have any interest in reading the book about parenting that Vanessa is reading, and they turn to look at another wall. Mark remains disinterested in thinking about the future.
Leah and Juno are at the mall, goofing off, when suddenly Juno sees Vanessa walking with some friends on a lower level. Vanessa plays with one of her friend’s children in a play area, and Juno watches, transfixed with the image of what a good mother Vanessa will be. As she and Leah walk over to the elevator, they run into Vanessa, who asks Juno how she’s feeling. When the baby starts to kick in Juno’s stomach, Vanessa asks if she can feel it, and Juno pulls Vanessa’s hand towards her stomach. At first, Vanessa can’t feel anything, which she takes personally—“It’s not moving for me,” she says. Juno suggests she try talking to the baby, and Vanessa leans down and speaks to Juno’s baby in the womb, telling it, “I can’t wait to meet you.” Suddenly the baby starts to kick and Vanessa’s eyes widen in excitement.
The film takes a big leap in time between the second and third sections. While the beginning of the film focuses on Juno on the brink of pregnancy, hardly showing her baby weight or experiencing any life-changing symptoms, by the winter she has a large belly and her pregnancy is the talk of the school. A dorky boy on the track team with Bleeker comments on the fact that Bleeker should grow a mustache in honor of his apparent virility at having knocked up Juno, an older school administrator grimaces at Juno’s belly, and the nurse administering the ultrasound responds to Juno’s glib one-liners with a critical raised eyebrow. Juno has been thoughtful but playful throughout her decision to have the baby, but now her apparent lightheartedness is met with more severe judgment by the world around her. She is clear-headed in her decision to have the baby and straightforwardly hand it over to Mark and Vanessa, but the people around her approach her teen pregnancy with more gravity and drama.
Indeed, a major part of Juno’s “quirkiness” is the fact that she doesn’t subscribe to typical notions of what constitutes normalcy. When the nurse tells her that she thinks that teenage motherhood is “poisonous,” Juno counters, “How do you know that I’m so poisonous, you know? What if these adoptive parents turn out to be like evil molesters?” While the world has a normative idea of what constitutes a happy and stable family (even the nurse administering the ultrasound), Juno reminds them that the normative fantasy is not always the ideal, and that there are plenty of equations that make for a happy upbringing. Thus we see that Juno is not simply “quirky” and unusual because of her idiosyncratic style and her unusually droll sense of humor, but also because her worldview is far more openminded and expansive than many of the people in her suburban community.
When Juno goes to show Mark and Vanessa the ultrasound pictures, only Mark is home. Mark and Juno continue to share a particularly kindred rapport. While Juno is a young punk weirdo still in high school, Mark wishes he could rekindle his own quirkiness, but has abandoned his punk rock lifestyle for a well-stocked McMansion in a cul-de-sac. Juno playfully razzes him about his totally un-cool choices, like the fact that he is drinking an herbal cooler, that he writes commercial jingles (“quite the sellout, Mark”), and the fact that he thinks Herschell Gordon Lewis is the master of horror (when she thinks it’s so clearly Dario Argento). In many ways, it appears as though Juno and Mark have more in common than Mark has with his wife, Vanessa, which creates an unusual closeness between them. While not explicitly romantic, the two characters identify with each other while also sharing a complicatedly detached business relationship; Juno may be the birth mother of Mark’s future child, but she has opted out of being involved in the child’s life. The closeness between Mark and Juno is a complicating force in the film, making the already tricky circumstance of teen pregnancy that much more tricky.
The pregnancy breaks down some boundaries between Juno and the adoptive parents of her unborn child, which causes complication, but it also brings her closer to the child’s father, Paulie Bleeker. After her strange afternoon with Mark, Juno goes to Bleeker’s house, and once she gets past his judgmental mother (whom she compares to a hobbit), Juno plops down on Bleeker’s beanbag, and it becomes clear that they know each other better than anybody. Bleeker tells Juno he thinks she’s beautiful, and they talk about getting their band back together. This moment in Bleeker’s room reminds the viewer that these inordinately articulate characters are still just wide-eyed high schoolers, with their whole lives ahead of them. While Juno and Bleeker may be exceedingly precocious, they want nothing more than to hang out on a school night and plot a revival of their high school garage band. Juno’s pregnancy, in launching her in to an early adulthood, serves as a catalyst for reminding her and Bleeker about their innocent desires and dreams together.
The film approaches the topic of teen pregnancy with a refreshing straightforwardness, it’s true, but as this section of the film shows us, it also shows the more complicated and emotional elements of not only pregnancy, but the process of adoption. While Juno’s relationship with Mark is perhaps more immediately friendly, she also makes the effort to befriend and create a relationship with the more uptight Vanessa. At the mall, Juno sees Vanessa playing with a friend’s child, and smiles as she notices how good with kids Vanessa is. Then, when she runs into Vanessa coming out of the elevator, she encourages her to touch her stomach and begin to create a physical relationship with the unborn baby. It is clear that Vanessa has internalized her inability to have a child as a personal failing, but Juno can see how badly she wants to be a mother, and so encourages her to speak to the baby in her stomach. When the baby begins to kick, Vanessa is delighted, realizing that she will soon have a connection with her baby and be able to play the maternal role that she has wanted for so long.