Monday, December 10, 2007

JUNO

I'm sorry it's been so long since I last posted, but after I finished my thesis, I chose to escape into a cocoon of down comforters and TV on DVD (particularly Veronica Mars, which is awesome). I have since reemerged to work on my heavy amounts of final paper-writing this week, figure out the details of getting an entertainment internship next semester, and prepare my final video project for the end-of-semester media studies screening.

On Tuesday, November 27th, I went to a free screening of Juno, which I had been looking forward to for months and months, and it took me quite a few days to sort out my thoughts about it. The film was truly everything I could have hoped for. Every element was finely crafted, and the excellent story and performances were augmented by a particularly impressive set design and soundtrack. I have still yet to see Hard Candy, so this was my first experience with Ellen Page in a starring role (though I'm sure she was cute as Kitty Pryde), and she blew me out of the water. Going in to this movie as an avid Michael Cera fan, I was surprised to see him take more of a background role, but incredibly glad that Page was always in the spotlight.

For those of you who have somehow managed to stumble onto my blog and yet do not know the premise of Juno, it takes us through the trials of accidentally pregnant high school junior Juno MacGuff as she prepares to give her baby to adoptive parents Mark and Vanessa Loring. At the same time, she is trying to reconcile her feelings for her best friend and babydaddy Paulie Bleeker, whom she is constantly awed by.

J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney, playing Juno's dad and stepmom, were very impressive. Janney played an alternate-universe version of her character Ms. Perky from 10 Things I Hate About You, but more realistic in her concern for the well-being of a teenager. Simmons, though, really stuck with me. Whenever he and Page were on screen together, I felt very emotionally connected to the scene, because it can be difficult to portray a loving father-daughter relationship realistically in movies sometimes.

Jennifer Garner as Vanessa was almost too simple, which really worked, especially in contrast to the complicated psyche of Mark. For the first time, I found myself annoyed by a Jason Bateman character - what can I say; I really liked Teen Wolf Too. I wasn't entirely sure to what extent Mark and Juno's relationship was supposed to be unsettling, but without giving away the end of the movie, I will say that it added a very unexpected wrench to the possibly overdone premise of the film.

Juno's friends Olive and Paulie give an interesting view of who Juno is, even though she says (in the trailer, even), "I'm not really sure what kind of girl I am." They're the sort of people I would have enjoyed spending time with if I were in high school, and they're really good people dealing with huge emotions...the basic emotional make-up of a high school student, I think. The romance between Juno and Paulie was incredibly heartfelt in its tempered anguish, and I felt fulfilled by it whenever Juno and Paulie were alone on screen together.

The final third of the film was surprisingly sweet and lofty, considering the sardonic, dry tone that the rest of the film uses. After watching the movie, I read Diablo Cody's screenplay, which was just a hair better than the resulting film. Just enough clever lines were cut to make the film PG13, but since I saw the movie first, I have to remember it as excellent as it was when I was trying to reign in my joy at watching it in the theater two weeks ago. I have since ordered a hamburger phone on eBay, and I can't wait to see the movie again.

2 comments:

Mike Spoodles said...

Can't wait to see this one. Thanks for keeping this review relatively spoiler-free!

You didn't miss much in Hard Candy. The performances were great, but the rest of the equation was a failure. Movie as a whole wasn't anything to write home about.

James2012 said...

Alright! The hamburger phone! So do you have to shake it to make it work too? =) Great review... Really enjoyed this movie: I heard great things but I was truly pleased to leave the theater with an experience beyond my expectations.