Friday, January 4, 2008


Juno finally came to Savannah, so I made sure to catch the first showing. It's already garnered quite a buzz, being nominated for 3 Golden globes (movie, screenplay, and actress). Though it was quite good, I don't think it'll have the same success of last year's Little Miss Sunshine, or the painfully long lasting cultural integration of Napoleon Dynamite.

Juno is the story of a pregnant high-school student, giving up the child for adoption. It was advertised as a dark comedy, but don't be misled by this. Though it was filled with a wide array of funny lines, the vast majority of the characters are in general very sad. The jokes are delivered in a manner trying to deal with a hopeless situation. As the saying goes- if you don't laugh, you'd cry.

Ellen Page stars as the movie's title character. I have been a fan of hers since I saw her in Hard Candy 3 years ago. She's played an unlikely sexual predator, an X-man, and now in the most realistic role, a pregnant teenager. Her character seems to struggle with being an unpopular high-school student, dealing with issues far above her maturity level, and trying to retain a bit of edge. Throw into this volatile mixture the hormones of pregnancy, her relationships with the father, her parents, and the adoptive family, and her attempts understand what love actually is- you get an incredibly complicated character.

The rest of the cast is filled with a collection of some of my favorite actors. Michael Cerra is Paul Bleeker, the father. He had a surprisingly small role in the movie, disappearing almost entirely in the second act. Cerra's Arrested Development co-star Jason Bateman and Jenifer Garner play the adoptive parents. On the surface they appear to be happy suburban yuppies, but as the movie progresses, we're introduced to the problems that even they have. Finally, Allison Janney and J.K. Simmons play Juno's father and stepmother. They round out the interesting triumvirate of relationships in the movie. They have to, of course, deal with Juno.

Despite being a rather dark subject, with rather depressed characters, there are some funny parts. One of the highlights was Juno's mother berating the ultra-sound technician (a pivotal turning point in their relationship). The problem, however, is that the script was so meticulously crafted, much of it doesn't sound realistic at all. A prime example of this is Rain Wilson's mini-mart managing character shown in the trailers. His lines seemed more Judd Apatow than this more serious movie. Despite the scripted dialog, Page manages to make it seems natural for her character.

The only issues I had with the acting was that many of Juno's lines were delivered in a Napoleon Dynamite inspired deadpan, "I don't give a crap", gravelly voiced manner. If you don't follow, just wait til you see the scene with Juno and Paul's lab partners. I swore I was watching Jon Heder. This method of acting has been done to death by this point, and doesn't really enhance anything. Fortunately Garner's earnest performance, Bateman's morally ambiguous role, and Page's sad vibrato make up for these scripted shortcomings.


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