JUNO (early review)

Ellen Page and Olivia Thirlby

It’s been just about three months since I’ve sat down and made myself write a film review, and the strange thing is that it has been in these last 90 days that I’ve seen the most movies of the year. The fall of 2007 has been a tremendous season at the multiplex, arguably the best of my movie-going life to this point, filled with works of wonder and perfection across all genres…yet I haven’t wrote one word about any of it. It’s strange and irritating that the very time cinema has cured me the most is when I begin to neglect pouring my thoughts out about it. Lately, however, there have been a handful of films that are so good that they have re-awakened my passion, forcing me to slap myself silly in hopes of righting the ship. I have a feeling that Jason Reitman’s new film, a godsend to say the least and based on a first-time screenplay by Diablo Cody called Juno, will make me realize that I need to start contributing my thoughts and be a part of what’s happening right now – the apparent rebirth of frequent originality in American cinema.

I had the extreme luck of falling upon some advance passes to Juno a couple of nights ago, and I must tell you that this is a film of such color and wonder and humor and inner beauty and freshness, that it single-handedly made the last Thursday of my life a memorable one. Reitman’s first film, Thank You For Smoking, was about as promising a debut as anyone could have hoped for, so the sheer brilliance that has resulted in Juno should come as no surprise, yet it does. It does because the movie is such a miracle of the genre that it’s hard to believe that a debut writer and extremely young and still new director have accomplished what seems like the most impossible of things to get firing on all cylinders – the real, relatable teen comedy that doesn’t draw comparisons or surrender to cliches. Cody’s screenplay never takes a turn into a pitfall, and manages to create characters, environments, and situations that just feel organically grown and revealed for the first time in film. Every line of dialogue in the movie, combined with the exceptional delivery by the cast is fresh, memorable, and lovable, and I feel with no doubt be universally cherished by just about everyone who sees the film. Ellen Page plays the title character, a 16 year-old who learns of her pregnancy then ponders the options on what would be the right thing to do with the whole process. It is a performance that at the very least will give her unanimous acclaim and keep her steadily acting for a very long time. The first time I had the chance to see Page was in David Slade’s uncomfortably effective thriller, Hard Candy, opposite Patrick Wilson. It was evident then that she could handle a major role like Juno should see be given the chance, and she knocks it out of the park and then some.

With such strong writing and equally impressive direction, it wouldn’t even take great cast work to make the film good, but of course everybody in the movie is terrific, helping flesh out and elevate the movie into masterpiece level. Michael Cera, fresh off his breakthrough role in Superbad, plays Paulie Bleeker, the other half responsible for the conception. He is such an oddly charming actor and has sort of quickly mastered the art of the timid yet hilarious and lovable teenager, and here he makes Bleeker a character you never want to leave the screen. Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman are very good as the wealthy couple who are in line to adopt Juno’s baby, doing the best work I’ve ever seen either of them do. This is an extremely important role for Garner in particular, because I think she sort of desperately needed something more unconventional to add to her stale filmography, to give it a little more life and make me personally believe in her more as a real actress. Others rounding out the ensemble are J.K. Simmons, Allison Janney, Olivia Thirlby, and Rainn Wilson, who are all equally fantastic. It’s impossible to not be at least a little bit memorable when you’re given a script like Cody’s for Juno, which I think that later down the road, whether it be years or decades even will be considered as a landmark moment and a spark to what is hopefully an illustrious career. Reitman, who is now 30 years of age has already surpassed the work of his father, Ivan, who did some great comedic stuff earlier in his career, but never with this many new and fresh things to bring to the table.

Rating: A+

PG-13
1 hour 31 minutes
Fox Searchlight Pictures

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2 Responses to “JUNO (early review)”

  1. Amanda Says:

    This is a beautiful review from you as usual. You always know just what to say. Its so so true too. This movie will be remembered for times to come.
    I loved it so much I can’t even say how much. It was one of those times where I got chills when watching it.

  2. fiendinacloud Says:

    violent ape rape!

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