Thursday, January 3, 2008

Movie Review: Juno

Director: Jason Reitman

Writer: Diablo Cody

Starring: Ellen Page, Jason Bateman, Jennfier Garner.

You'll notice in the 'Starring' category, I did not include Michael Cera or Rainn Wilson. This is because my burning hatred for the people that edit previews has intensified. If one were to go into Juno without knowing anything else, coming in with expectations put forth by previews, they would be disappointed with a lack of Michael Cera (who is in about 20 of the 96 minutes of the film), and Rainn Wilson (One scene). Fortunately, most Office and Superbad fanboys expecting to see the movie consist of mostly the aforementioned two's comedic talents would not be dissapointed.

First things first - This has widely been hailed as Ellen Page's coming out party. She does one hell of a job. Since the writer's strike, I have usually gone out of my way to give those who composed the script credit - and Diablo Cody certainly deserves it - but it is Page who brings the character to life with such effortlessness. Lines like "You should've gone to China, you know, 'cause I hear they give away babies like free iPods. You know, they pretty much just put them in those t-shirt guns and shoot them out at sporting events " could come off as incredibly stupid, but Page seemed meant to play the character. Juno MacGuff's smart-mouth nature may be treated as a novelty in many reviews, but in my eyes it seemed to be a natural part of the character. The most important part about Page's portrayal of the title character is that she is impossible not to like- anyone who has ever felt out of place can relate to the offbeat teen and truly feel for her.

Of course, this movie would not be nearly as great without the supporting cast. Aformentioned Rainn Wilson is a great sparkplug for the plot - he works in the convenience store where Juno buys her third and final pregnancy test, and sets the tone for the film as soon as he says "That ain't no etch-a-sketch. This is one doodle that can't be un-did, homeskillet." Michael Cera does what he does best in playing the confused, yet sweet kid that just wants whats best. He may be doomed to play some iteration of George Michael Bluth/Evan Goldberg for the rest of his career, but when he is so convincing, it's hard to argue against the typecasting. His chemistry with Ellen Page makes you care about what happens between the characters - it's a convoluted romance between misfits, but it's romance nonetheless. J.K. Simmons (who you may know most recently as J. Jonah Jameson from the Spiderman movies) plays a fantastic foil to the pregnant protagonist. Mac MacGuff is the gruff, yet affectionate father of Juno who not only provides insight on her character, but the occasional comic relief.

Perhaps the most important of the supporting cast is the married couple played by Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner. Not unlike other Fox Searchlight Picture Napoleon Dynamite, Juno fights aesthetic norms, favoring the quirky and unkempt - The Lorings (Bateman and Garner) are the antithesis of this style, and introduce the theme of perfection. The cinematography in introducing the Loring household brings viewers abruptly back to the idea of faultlessness; every room is impeccably organized and the couple is successful, attractive, and happy. Now, unlike every other freaking review out there, I will not wreck the rising action of the plot, but I will say Bateman and Garner are integral in the moral of the story - perfection is an illusion that merely blinds us from finding true happiness.

I can't say enough about writer Diablo Cody. It is a rare occurrence when a primarily heartwarming love story can make you laugh as hard as some of her one-liners had the audience doing. The newcomer, (Before Juno, she authored the book Candy Girl: A Year in The Life of An Unlikely Stripper) brings a freshness to moviegoers that would be a crime to ignore.

In short, I can't say much more than other critics have. Roger Ebert named Juno #1 on his Top 10 Best for 2007, and he knows a thing or two about quality movies. It is a truly endearing movie that most of the population can enjoy. After all, when "Thunder Cats Are GO!" is bellowed when the protagonist's water breaks, how can you not like it?

Final Verdict: 91/100 (Brah-some)

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