Directed by Jason Reitman.
Written by Diablo Cody.
Starring Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner and Jason
Release Year: 2007
Review Date: 11/14/07
I knew when I saw the trailer that "Juno"
had potential, and after our free screening tonight downtown, I must
say--this is some great stuff.
Director Jason Reitman, who gave us the
"Thank You for Smoking" two years ago (it was maybe the most
overrated comedy I saw in '05), shows more of the promise that came
through in his debut film by deftly mixing big laughs from a great
script with some solid drama later in the film. "Juno" is all
about Juno (Ellen Page), a 16-year-old kid who decides to have sex
with her best friend Paulie (Michael Cera)...and, whammo, she gets
pregnant, which is no big thrill for her dad (J.K. Simmons) and
stepmom (Allison Janney) in their hometown somewhere in Minnesota.
After some deliberation, Juno makes an interesting decision: she
won't have an abortion, but she won't keep the child...she wants to
have a closed adoption and give the kid to two total strangers
(Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman) because she wants the child to
have a good home, and as a high schooler, Juno doesn't think she'll
have the chops to raise a kid at her young age.
Like other teen comedies in the recent past
(or, uh, "Superbad",
which Cera also appeared in), "Juno" gets a lot of mileage by
creating its own slang for the teen actors who appear in the film.
I can't even remember all of the funny bits that Juno, Paulie, and
Juno's friend Leah (Olivia Thirlby) throw out over the course of the
film's running time, but trust me, teenagers and college kids the
nation over will be quoting this movie by January non-stop.
Even though "Juno" is further evidence that Cera's range is exactly
one note (he plays the same character here that he did in "Arrested
Development" and in "Superbad"), if you can do one thing and do it
well--geeky, awkward, gangly white kid whose comic timing is always
a hair late, which makes him funnier--then keep doing it; I thought
he was funny but as much as I love him, he's starting to feel
familiar. The real strength of "Juno"--besides Page, who was
excellent in "Hard
Candy" and is incredible in this film--is the supporting cast;
Bateman and Garner make for a funny, yin & yang couple, and Simmons
will get raves for his work in this film.
The speed of "Juno", for anyone like me who
loves "Simpsons"-style rapid-fire humor, is fantastic; the story as
it unfolds is also well done. What I didn't like so much--the
soundtrack, but even I would admit that while the music here isn't
my style, it's somebody else's style for sure; the major plot
development late in the film, which I just thought was weak; and,
just a general sense that this was, for lack of a better phrase, a
movie. By this I mean that "Juno" at times feels like it was
written, not that it is natural, be it lines that I
could never imagine Juno's father saying, or lines that are just too
perfect for the situation (even if they get a laugh). You have
to see the film to see what I mean, but I think that I felt this a
few times throughout the film.
This film doesn't come out until December,
but you need to check it out whenever it hits. Good stuff!
Rating: $9.50 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard