February 6, 2008

Golden Globe/Oscar nominee review #1: Juno

You know what? Instead of a post full of movie reviews, why not divide them one by one into bite sized bits? And better way to start the series off with...

Juno - Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Ellen Page JUNO
Directed by
: Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking)

Released by
: Fox Searchlight Pictures

: Oscar for Best Actress, Best Direction, Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay; Globes for Best Picture - Musical or Comedy, Best Actress, Best Screenplay

Wins: N/A

Tomatometer: 92%

In a nutshell: It's a whip-smart, funny and affecting take on teen pregnancy. An easily recommendable comedy that belongs in a class of its own.

I guess there's no such thing a sophomore curse.

Though I have yet to watch Jason Reitman's acclaimed debut film Thank You For Smoking, his top-notch direction in his newest film Juno definitely deserves its due. Then again, first-time screenwriter and ex-stripper Diablo Cody is where the real credit is due as she provides us a whip-smart, funny and affectingly compelling take on teen pregnancy.

I actually didn't like Little Miss Sunshine much when I watched it, and though this movie is of the same vein, the movie delivers more laughs and character development. Plus, it makes you feel good in a weird way.

So how does it go? Well, Juno gets a bit "bored" and has a one night's stand with her best friend Paulie Bleeker after booze. And judging from the poster, someone didn't buy any condoms. But now that the damage has been done, she has to grow up a little bit faster and instead of abortion, she finds adoptive parents at the Pennysaver and sees the perfect couple... at least on the surface. No, they're fortunately not the type of stepparents that are generically like the devil, but they are also real people, who are good but are married too long to the extent that the love isn't present anymore. But hey, Juno likes them (and doesn't know about this until the latter part of the movie) and she consents to making them the baby's parents. She goes through the paces of pregnancy, all the while confronting the genetic father, her own parents and the revelations that come. Thankfully, everything that happens are expertly balanced and superbly acted.

I can't imagine anybody else perfect for the roles of every person in this solid cast. Ellen Page gives you a show of what she can do and nails her role perfectly and delivers her lines naturally while for the first time does Michael Cera, star of Knocked Up and Superbad, doesn't say a swear word for the first time! And I also love the fact that, though it is predictable that the parents will express shock and a bit of anger, they definitely understand, not to mention respect, their daughter's decisions, thus making a few other cliches I can spot in the heart-to-heart talk (with Juno and her dad talking about loving forever and stuff), quite affecting and so... un-cliche.

You know what? The movie would also be the thinking man's comedy because they utter comedic lines naturally. And if you don't pay attention, you won't definitely laugh. OK, if you want to test your attention span, try finding the line that says, "the pink plus sign is so unholy!". If you don't find this one, then... good luck appreciating it.

Adding even more to the movie is its perfect soundtrack. Most of them are indies, some of them are obscure, but they're fitting for the mood and atmosphere of the scenes. I mean, the somewhat moody cover of The Carpenter's Superstar is already stuck in my head. Sometimes, I would catch myself singing the thing!

This movie is definitely relevant for many audiences and it's quite easy to recommend. It's genuinely funny, intelligent and wonderful. One minor quirk, though, she kinda dresses funny. But you know what? I think I'll be watching it again now...

Rating: 9.2/10 (Superb, yet simple)

Next in the series: Elizabeth: The Golden Age (Thursday), Sweeney Todd (Friday)

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