Comments on watching and making films.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Juno is, probably, one of my most anticipated films of the year, behind Control. Ever since Arrested Development, I've been a fan of Michael Cera (who played George Michael Bluth), and Jason Bateman (some of you may be old enough to remember him from Silver Spoons and Valerie, as well). The film also stars Ellen Page, as the title character Juno, who I have a semi-embarrassing crush on (she's only twenty, and looks even younger than that, so, it just feels weird).

The film is the story of Juno MacGuff, a sixteen year old girl who, after having sex with her best friend (played by Cera), ends up pregnant. She decides to keep the baby, but only long enough to have it, and then give it up for adoption. Along with her best friend, the tragically cliche Leah, she seeks out a couple to adopt her baby from the local pennysaver, and stumbles upon a well to do couple who is unable to conceive (played by Bateman and Jennifer Garner). While Juno is going through the ordeal of being quietly ostracized by her parents, and openly ostracized by her peers, she's trying to reconnect with her best friend and the father of her baby, Pauly Bleeker (as always, played hilariously by Michael Cera).

I'm not going to talk too much more about the plot, because I'd hate to give away any of the most interesting subplots that go on in the film. I will say that Page, Cera, and Bateman excel in their art form, in this film. The script, written by newcomer Diablo Cody, was well directed by Jason Reitman (yes, the son of legendary comedy director Ivan Reitman), though, I will say that Juno suffers considerably from a case of self-conscious filmmaking. Reitman wears his influences on his sleeve, especially in art direction, and his indie sensibility, while sharp, never-the-less sometimes feels like it has been cobbled together from other directors Mise-En-Scene. For instance, the amount of detail in the art direction in Juno's room, or her house for that matter, almost hearkens back to the painful amount of attention to period detail in, say, a Wes Anderson film. 

And the wall to wall indie music soundtrack, while made up of great music, did get kind of old. I mean, how many Belle and Sebastian songs can you have in one movie! But Reitman is a newcomer, trying to find his place away from his father, and trying to find his own voice, so I'm sure as time goes on, he will develop his own style. 

My only other problem with the film was the way the characters (primarily Juno and Leah), would talk sometimes. The words and phrasing they would use at times just felt SO self-conscious and written, as opposed to spontaneous and real. Some of their interactions felt scripted, as opposed to natural.

Page really made me fall in love with Juno. By the time the film was over, I was crying, and wishing I was Pauly Bleeker, sitting there on some front porch in Washington state, singing Moldy Peaches songs with Juno.

Ellen Page and Jason Bateman at Juno Premiere

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