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Juno (DVD Review)

6 Apr, 2008 By: John Latchem

Street 4/15/08
Box Office $142 million
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 two-DVD set, $39.98 Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG-13’ for mature thematic material, sexual content and language.
Stars Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner, J.K. Simmons, Allison Janney, Olivia Thirlby, Rainn Wilson.

The story of Juno starts with its auspicious writer, Diablo Cody, the former sex industry blogger who cashed in a sample screenplay for Oscar gold. Her success should really put the industry in perspective for all those film-school hacks floundering with a job at Starbucks wondering why they can’t seem to catch a break.

Cody (real name Brook Busey) infuses her script with a crisp energy translated perfectly to the screen by director Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking), and aided by a perfect cast.

Ellen Page effortlessly carries the film as Juno MacGuff, a 16-year-old who gets pregnant after deciding to cure a night of boredom by losing her virginity to her best guy friend (Michael Cera of Superbad). From there the film takes an attitude that flies in the face of the conventional teen-pregnancy arc. The basic idea here is Juno has lost her innocence and spends the rest of the film trying to regain it, mostly by arranging an adoption with an infertile yuppie couple played by Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner, who is sensational conveying both the potential joy and heartbreak associated with being an expectant adoptive mother.

Equally impressive are J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney as Juno’s supportive and equally offbeat parents.

Juno feels less like a movie and more like an episode in the lives of this group of smart, quirky characters. Juno and her friends could be involved in any number of scenarios and I suspect we’d be as equally entertained. The deleted scenes become cherished glimpses into their shenanigans, playing out like the delicious flashbacks in a good episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

The DVD’s numerous featurettes give the impression this was just a fun movie to make, driven by Cody’s unique narrative voice. Cody and Reitman demonstrate their remarkable creative synergy in a delightful commentary in which they take turns explaining to each other the little artistic touches they added in.

The extras go a long way in enhancing a film that, quite frankly, did pretty well on its own. You can’t ask for much more than that.

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