Friday, December 7, 2007

Juno What I Mean: A Special Guest Review

Dearest bloggeratti,

Sickness here, while this may be my blog I am not so vast in my power I can be everywhere I want to be at once. So when something cool comes along like a screening of the much buzzed about Juno with a follow-up Q&A with star Ellen Page all the way in San Francisco, I know something must be done. Luckily one of my agents and friend of the site Carold Finkelstein was on hand to cover the event. Cary as a huge fan of virtually everyone involved in this picture has all the passion and knowledge I'd want from a guest-reviewer so consider yourself lucky to be reading his opinion.

I'll be checking in with Cary in a follow up entry to pump him for more information (yes, yes, I really do have it coming sometimes) about the flick and chatting with Miss Page in person. Let me go on by saying that I am incredibly pleased with Cary for not only writing up an especially eloquent and savvy review, but doing it so quickly amidst me yelling at him like J. Jonah Jameson (by which I mean I gchatted him saying to get me pictures of Spider-Man). Kudos to you Carold, go have a fashion show at lunch. Here's Cary:
Juno tells the story of a high school girl (Page) who gets pregnant and decides to keep the baby. There's no political or social statements about abortion. Juno doesn't have to fight her way across picket lines or deal with any religious backlash. Diablo Cody, in her sparkling screenwriting debut, leaves those at the door. Juno freely talks about the "sea monkey" growing in her belly or when it's going to pop out her "vag." The dialogue crackles with one-liners that will leave you slumping over your movie seats and wishing you had a remote to go back and catch the lines you missed while laughing so hard.

The movie doesn't waste anytime when Juno takes that fateful pregnancy test in the opening minutes. And here's where things get interesting: instead of turning into some Lifetime movie, Juno takes this opportunity to look at marriage, friendship, parenthood, and yes, love. It doesn't preach, it doesn't suggest any message or any way to live your life. Like any great comedy, it makes you laugh so hard that you don't realize how affecting it is until the closing credits roll.

All of the praise heaped on Ellen Page for this breakthrough role (yes I'm aware she was in Hard Candy and X-Men: the Last Stand, but this one is a career-maker), is well earned. Juno is smart, sassy, tender, confident, weak, and like most teenagers, unsure about who she is and where her life will go. Page hits the bulls-eye and effortlessly balances all of these traits. She doesn't come off as "too much" of anything, she comes off human.

But there is so much more to this movie than the luminous Page. It won't be long before you see posters of Michael Cera in a track uniform next to those of Zac Efron. Cera brings a subtle sweetness and the awkward romancing that made us love him in Arrested Development. Jason Bateman (Cera's father in Arrested Development) as the still-stuck-in-youth father to be and JK Simmons (best known for yelling "Parker!" in the Spidey movies) as Juno's endearing father delight. However, the true supporting stars are the women. Allison Janney redefines every fairy tale as Juno's stepmother Bren; she'll zip and zing her way into your heart. And the real surprise is Jennifer Garner as Vanessa, the adoptive mother of Juno's baby. Garner can do MUCH more than change wigs and beat people up. She takes a seemingly perfect and shallow character and brings more depth than you could imagine with one simple scene in a mall.

As a special treat at my screening, Ellen Page was on hand for a brief Q & A. I suspect she inhabited this character so deeply that it has rubbed off on her (or perhaps the other way around). Page is just as delightful in person - cracking jokes, very insightful, and honest. She really believes in this movie and in the Cody's screenplay and Jason Reitman's direction. I felt like I wanted to be on that movie set because of how much fun she made it sound. After accidentally saying the word "shit" Page proclaimed, "We're getting pretty loose at this Q & A. I bet Cate Blanchett doesn't get to have this much fun." And yes, I got to shake her hand. No you cannot touch it. Maybe she remembers my name.

There is so much more to tell about this movie but the best thing to do is to see it for yourself (no Fox Searchlight did not pay me to say that). When you're listening to the near-perfect soundtrack of Kimya Dawson and the Moldy Peaches, you'll understand. Juno is the kind of movie that you can't sum up in a couple sentences, or even in a short review for that matter. Yes Juno is about a girl who gets pregnant and decides to keep the baby, but that's not what it's really about, that's just what happens in the plot. After telling her parents she's pregnant Juno says, "I don't know what kind of girl I am" and even at the end of the movie, she's still figuring it out and so are we.


Harley said...

I won't nearly imply that the guest poster is as eloquent or hot as you, Sickness, but that review was exceptionally written. He's welcome at my place, anytime, but only if he let's me touch his hand.

A-Train said...

Oooh, Ellen Page! That IS Shadowcat! So she can pass through walls, much like the sperm passed through the... it writes itself!

New Frank said...

Here's a bit of unexpected vitriol: I don't think Jason Bateman is a movie actor. He was the weakest link in this exceptionally strong ensemble. I know this seems like heresy, and the man has a mastery of dialogue that makes him oh so suited for TV. But he just can't make the silent moments work for him on the big screen (for examples of said silent moments played to perfection, please see one Steve Carell).

Also, JK Simmons and Alison Janney are NOT getting enough credit for their outstanding performances in this film. They really ground Juno as a character in a believable reality.

And because I mentioned JK Simmons...

"I need photos, photos of Spider-Man!"
"Sir, this is a poetry journal."
"Then get me poems about Spider-Man!"