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Juno

by DeAnn Welker April 22, 2008 10:50 am
Juno

It would be difficult to have made it to this point without having heard of Juno -- you know, that little movie that somehow made it big, ending up getting nominated for a whole bunch of Oscars, including Best Picture. And the writer -- former stripper-turned-blogger Diablo Cody -- even won one for best original screenplay (which, when competing against the much more original Lars and the Real Girl, was frankly undeserved; but I digress).

It's quirky, cute, lighthearted, and often trying too hard to be clever. And, really, the reason to watch it is for the performances -- and not just Oscar nominee Ellen Page's. Really, the ensemble of supporting characters here are what really makes it. There's Arrested Development and Superbad favorite Michael Cera, who'll make you smile every time he's on screen; Jennifer Garner, who sort of steals the movie with her earnest longing for a child; J.K. Simmons, who actually manages to erase the memory of Schillinger that's been seared into my brain for eternity with his loving father; and Allison Janney, who's typically magical. I would comment on Jason Bateman, but I feel that anything I say will give away the movie for those who haven't seen it yet.

If you enjoyed the quirk and fun of the movie, then, the DVD offers some extras that are just as fun:

There's an informative, conversational commentary on the film with director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody. It's a nice balance to have the two of them there, because Jason, like many directors, tends to get really directory with many bits about the technical stuff in the movie, and Diablo keeps it more light and breezy and about the writing -- how she came up with certain stuff, what things are somewhat autobiographical, etc. Commentaries are almost always better when there are at least two people, so that it's more of a conversation than a narration, and this is no exception. Especially since it's clear these two enjoy talking to each other, so they're never at a loss for things to say about the film and the filmmaking process.

There are 11 deleted scenes -- some that are really more of alternate scenes that deleted scenes -- that don't add all that much to the movie in the way of plot. They are fun, though, and give a bit more insight into the characters. There's one highlight, especially, when Juno sings at an open-mic night, apparently, a song she wrote about her best guy friend getting her pregnant. It's very funny, and ends with a cute interchange between Juno and Bleeker (those names! So overly clever!). There's commentary with director Reitman and screenwriter Cody on the deleted scenes, which is pretty fun, actually, because we find out which scenes Diablo was upset were cut, and which scenes she's actually never seen before (Liberty Bell in her Hulk underwear for one). We also learn that in the open-mic scene, Diablo wrote the lyrics, but Ellen Page herself actually wrote the music. Some people really are entirely too talented, aren't they?

There's a gag reel, which is not really as funny as you'd think given how fun it had to be making this movie. There are a couple of hilarious moments -- including a scene that Ellen cannot make it through without laughing, and it does certainly show the cast's more colorful language, particularly Jason Bateman's (I have to admit I liked him more here than I did in most of the movie; he was definitely funnier). There's also a gag take, which is one extended fake outtake, in which Rainn Wilson and Jason Reitman can't agree on how to lift the bags in a convenience store scene.

The "Cast & Crew Jam" is an all-inclusive music video that seems to feature everyone who was involved in the movie in any way. It's actually entertaining for basically consisting of people just dancing/sitting/jamming/jumping around/acting in front of shimmery, silver streamers. And don't give up if you're not hooked. It's only a few minutes long, and it gets funnier as it goes along.

The best extra here, though, are the screen tests, which demonstrate how organic the chemistry really was between Ellen Page and Michael Cera, because -- other than the fact that she's wearing less makeup -- their interactions together are exactly the same as they are in the movie. They had to know they had gold on their hands with these two. There are screen tests between Ellen and most of the other major players, and they're all gems (mostly because studios usually don't dare to let us see this stuff), but none are as good as Page + Cera. That right there is magic.

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