Tuesday, December 04, 2007

"Juno"


by guest reviewer Gary Ray
One Liner Review

If you’ve seen the trailer for Juno and decided that it’s
not for you, please read on: I’d like to change your mind.
I thought the same thing when I saw the trailer: here we
go again, another “quirky” movie peopled with characters
who’d never do or say half the things they door say and
with a lead character that spouts smart-alecky remarks
that no one could possibly dream up that didn’t have a
week to ponder them.
Then I saw the movie.  Arms folded.  Third row.  In
the first several scenes, my worst fears had come
true— yes, the film was exactly like the trailer.
Then, bit by bit, scene by scene, the story began to
surprise me.  My arms unfolded.  I relaxed. I laughed.
The characters were real.  And the acting— superb.
I know that lead Ellen Page is getting the lion’s share
of the praise (she was the only one nominated for an
Independent Spirit Award), but the rest of the ensemble
possibly give stronger performances than she does.
Michael Cera is astonishingly natural (and understatedly
funny). And one thing I love about the screenplay is
the relationship between him and his baby-mama Juno:
they’re just friends.  They had sex once.  But the script
doesn’t dwell on any “what are we gonna do!” madness.
And then there are Juno’s parents played by Allison
Janney (The West Wing)and J. K. Simmons (he plays Peter
Parker’s editor at the newspaper in the Spiderman movies)
who give stellar performances. And, finally— if I can
think of another superlative—there is Jennifer Garner and
Jason Bateman, who steal the show: both magnificent. It’s
the Garner storyline in particular that, in the final
analysis, won me over on Juno.

As with all great movies, it’s not just the beating of
one single note: but an array of subplots and minor
characters whose lives are affected by the lead
character’s trajectory that make for an ideal movie
experience.  We see how Juno is affecting so many
people’s lives. And, in her separate relationships
with the Garner and Bateman characters, we see an
evolution in her understanding of human nature. And
again, how many movies about teen pregnancy do you know
that aren’t about what a big, dumb mistake it is.
Juno is practically matter-of-fact about the pregnancy
itself. Instead it’s about the world we live in.  Its
about how less screwed up Juno is in light of how more
screwed up the adults are around her. And it’s about
how everything can be okay, no matter how bleak the
outlook.
OSCAR UPDATE: Juno was nominated for Best Picture, Best Directing, Best Actress and Best Screenplay. Diablo Cody won a well deserved Best Screenplay Oscar for her witty and honest writing in Juno. She gave a moving acceptance speech thanking her amazing director (Jason Reitman), lead actress (Ellen Page), and her mom for "accepting me just the way I am."

3 comments:

reel inspiration said...

The Academy Award nominations have been announced. Two big surprises for me: Juno being nominated for Best Picture, Best Directing, and Best Screenplay! And Lars and the Real Girl being nominated for best screenplay. Two comedies in the best writing section --unheard of! (By me anyway...)
Jana

Sarah said...

Best movie of the year!

reel inspiration said...

I liked it too. Juno is number four on my best films list. You can officially vote for it on Reel Inspiration's 2007 Best Films survey under the profile.
Jana