An Oscar-Nominated Movie With a Peculiar Sensibility
Juno (2007) was nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Picture, and it won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay (Diablo Cody). It is only the second feature film directed by Jason Reitman — his first was Thank You for Smoking (2005) — but Juno earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Director. And in the role of the title character, Ellen Page gives a captivating performance that garnered her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.
The most interesting thing about Juno is its peculiar sensibility. It is a feel-good movie, laugh-out-loud funny at times, but a serious comedy nonetheless. The film is earnest, but that is made palatable by giving the characters a certain amount of cynicism. There's plenty of self-conscious, zingy dialogue, but the actors deliver it in an offhand, sardonic manner that masks their characters' underlying emotions. The camerawork and editing don't call attention to themselves because an elaborate visual style would make the movie feel less sincere. The soundtrack has songs by Kimya Dawson with folksy lyrics sung artlessly, accompanied by acoustic guitar.
A Teenager Deals With Things Way Beyond Her Level of Maturity
The film's heroine is Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page), a 16-year-old high school junior living in the Minneapolis area with her working-class father (J.K. Simmons), stepmom (Allison Janney) and baby half-sister. As Juno's stepmom remarks, "I think kids get bored and they have intercourse." That's as good an explanation as any as to how Juno ends up pregnant by her timid high school buddy, Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera).
Juno phones Women Now and tells them, "I'm just calling to procure a hasty abortion," but she doesn't go through with it. Instead, she responds to an ad in the PennySaver and arranges for an affluent married couple (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner) to adopt her baby. As tiny Juno grows large with child, she says, "I'm a legend, you know. They call me the cautionary whale."
But complications arise, and Juno is faced with difficult decisions. What she chooses would probably be wrong for most other women enduring an unwelcome pregnancy, and there's no way to be sure her choices are in the long run going to be right for herself, her baby, and the baby's father. Although the movie's ending is upbeat, there's a lingering undercurrent of sadness that makes it all the more satisfying.
Bonus Materials on the Single-Disc DVD
The best extra on the single-disc DVD edition of Juno is the feature-length audio commentary, which is primarily by director Jason Reitman, although screenwriter Diablo Cody is also heard from. Reitman is extremely informative as he covers many aspects of shooting the movie in the Vancouver area, which stood in for Minnesota. Vancouver had a rare snowfall during the shoot, and they were able to use that for some of Juno's winter scenes.
Also, the single-disc DVD edition contains additional bonus materials with a total runtime of 53 minutes, but if you're at all busy, you might prefer to skip them. There are 11 deleted scenes with a total runtime of about 20 minutes, and these can optionally be watched while listening to commentary from Reitman and Cody. An unfunny gag reel runs five minutes, and there's the two-minute "Gag Take," in which actor Rainn Wilson (portrays the store clerk) purports to argue with Reitman over how to play a simple scene. The three-minute "Cast and Crew Jam" is a montage of people who worked on the movie doing various things while OK Go's “Do What You Want" is heard on the soundtrack. Finally, there's about 22 minutes of screen tests with Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Olivia Thirlby (plays Juno's best friend Leah) and J.K. Simmons.
Two DVD Editions and a Blu-ray Edition
There are two DVD editions of Juno, one a single disc and the other a two-disc set. The single-disc edition is described above, and the two-disc set includes all the single-disc content along with four additional featurettes: "Way Beyond 'Our' Maturity Level: Juno — Leah — Bleeker," "Diablo Cody Is Totally Boss," "Jason Reitman for Shizz" and "Honest to Blog!: Creating Juno." Also, the two-disc set provides a capability known as Digital Copy, which allows viewers to easily transfer a digital version of the film to a Windows-based PC or a Mac and then on to portable video devices, including an iPod or iPhone.
In addition to the two DVD editions, there is a Blu-ray edition of Juno. It contains all the content of the two-disc DVD edition plus two more extras: "Fox Movie Channel Presents: World Premiere — Juno" and "Fox Movie Channel Presents: Casting Session — Juno." The Blu-ray edition also provides the Digital Copy capability.
Release Date: April 15, 2008
Feature Film Runtime: 1 hour 36 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for Mature Thematic Material, Sexual Content and Language
Widescreen (1.85:1), Color