FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: Last night, I saw “Juno” which stars Ellen Page (Inception, X-Men: Days of Future Past), Michael Cera (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, The LEGO Batman Movie), Jennifer Garner (Dallas Buyer’s Club, Alias [TV series]), Jason Bateman (The Gift , Zootopia), Allison Janney (The Way Way Back, Finding Nemo), J.K. Simmons (Whiplash , La La Land), Olivia Thirlby (Dredd, No Strings Attached), and Rainn Wilson (The Office [TV series], Super). It is directed by Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking, Up in the Air) and written by Diablo Cody (Young Adult, Jennifer’s Body). When a junior in high school named Juno (Page) gets pregnant, she decides to give the baby to a married couple having longed for one for five years. Juno’s journey to giving birth will be filled with drama, awkwardness, and angst.
Now this, this is where I find my happiness: Indie films. I can’t explain enough how much I love movies that evoke a folky, witty feel, whether it’s your whimsical Wes Anderson or awkward Jared Hess. It’s possibly my favorite genre/tone in the cinema world because it separates itself from the clichés and tropes found in bigger productions today. Sure, they create their own clichés along the way, but I’d like to leave that to style rather than narrative. “Juno” has been on my radar for a while. Fox Searchlight has gifted the world with plenty of gems, ranging from “Napoleon Dynamite” to “(500) Days of Summer.” Here, we find dysfunction, depression, and/or awkwardness all sandwiched into a playful smile to the world. It’s relatable and fun to watch unfold; the best part is the filmmakers get full control. Wacky stuff can come of this (look at “Gentlemen Broncos”), but that’s what film is all about: people make what they want and we decide if we like it or not. It’s art in a nutshell, and cinema is an art. Focusing on “Juno,” I had immense fun watching this story unfold. The characters are weird and often dry (in a good way), the cinematography and color tones are wonderfully crafted, and the music used is foot-stompingly genius. It’s an Indie lover’s paradise, and anyone who is new to this style will surely find pleasure in boarding the island. Jason Reitman, while utilizing a direction that is familiar to this genre, beautifully pieced this picture together, breathing life into these characters and making a fun adventure that is unwholesomely wholesome. Yeah, I’m not keen on teens having sex before marriage, especially when it results in pregnancy during high school, but I couldn’t help it; I enjoyed watching this. The performances were top notch in an odd sense. Ellen Page’s Juno was completely different from everyone else, and it took a while for me to get used to her. Once I did, I found her to be exceptional. She was the most natural of the cast, and wasn’t the stereotypical annoying rebel. Michael Cera, while shy and quiet, spoke big in his role of Beeker. Though he wasn’t in it much, I thought his role was fun, if not just as good as Page’s. The rest of the cast pulled together in this were just as good, with Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Allison Janney, and J.K. Simmons rounding out the ballot. They’re all actors I like for the most part (primarily Simmons) and it wasn’t a surprise that they did well. The characters are what made this adventure, but the overall atmosphere of the story added a completely new depth. As I mentioned before, the cinematography and color tones were fantastic. Yellows, reds, and browns clashed often in Juno’s world, besides the other tones associated with other characters. The cinematography, while basic when compared to big productions, was bold in this context. It exhibited what it promoted, filling the viewer’s heart with enjoyment and whimsical ideas. The music added to this fact. Usually when I see Indie features, I take their music for my own works or pastime, and “Juno” is no exception. It intermingled folk with rock, a great combination I take immense joy in (they’re my favorite music genres). Everything aesthetically about this feature screamed what I love about small scale filmmaking. If you are anything like me, you’ll enjoy this thoroughly. “Juno” is a heartwarming, funny, little project made with care by the filmmakers. Of course, there are flaws with it, consisting of certain character development found in the adoptive parents and handling of the newborn baby, but in the end this is a quirky feature filled with enough spunk to entertain you from beginning to end. That’s if you can get passed the whole concept of teen pregnancy. FINAL SCORE: 87%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: