Juno – DVD Review

Juno DVD
Available at Amazon.com

2007 was an incredible year if one was a comedy fan. From Knocked Up to Waitress, with a good British comedy in Death at a Funeral as well as Hot Rod and Superbad amongst the top of the comedy barrel, the year’s best comedy earned several Oscar nominations and won for Best Original Screenplay. Roger Ebert would name Juno as his favorite film of 2007 and its hard to disagree with him; it’s a great film and one of the most touching of the last decade.

Ellen Page stars as the titular character, a high school junior whose one-time fling with her best friend Bleeker (Michael Cera) winds up leaving her carrying his child. Determined to carry the child to term in order to let a couple (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner) adopt it, the film follows Juno from the first stages of pregnancy through the birth of the child. Whereas the other top notch comedy of the year Knocked Up (which tackled the same subject) skewered towards the more masculine method of looking at the situation, Juno is the feminine side and is a nice balancing act in a year with several comedies about unexpected pregnancy.

The film is driven by Page, who relishes the role as the sort of smart aleck who’s revered many moons after high school is over but is treated as a sort of outcast during her pre-secondary education. Page really pushes the envelope as Juno, an outcast with the sort of funny bone that isn’t really appreciated at her age. She delivers everything with such a deadpan delivery that the inherent humor in them is much funnier because of it. Page is the main character and the film revolves around her, obviously, but she doesn’t show any of the uneasiness many other young actresses would have in the part. She knows exactly where the character is going and exactly how she wants to portray her; it’s a steady performance that’s shockingly funny and endearing at the same time.

Juno is served by a terrific script that delivers enough comedy to keep the film rolling while delivering a sweat and tender storyline about the trespasses and travails of love. Jason Reitman, who delivered last year’s subversive hit Thank You for Smoking, brings the same style of humor with a softer touch for his sophomore effort in film-making. Unlike many second time directors he has a real deft touch when it comes to comedy; there are a lot of easy jokes he could use but instead goes for the more nuanced humor that takes more than four-letter worlds or bathroom references. While the film suffers a bit from some gutter level jokes that feel a bit crude for a more nuanced character-driven comedy, for the most part it stays above the fray and aims for quality humor.

It was one of the best films of the year, not just the best comedy.

Presented in a Dolby Digital format with a widescreen presentation, the film has a terrific presentation. This isn’t a film with lots of colors or a booming score, but for what it has to do it does it well.

Deleted Scenes, complete with commentary on their deletion by Reitman and writer Diablo Cody, are included on this disc. Complete in the same audio/visual quality as the film, able to be placed back into the film’s running time without being noticeably deleted scenes, and there’s some real quality stuff to be found in it. Its obvious why some of the scenes were cut, but there was obviously a plethora of good material to work with for the film’s original cut.

A Gag Reel, as well as a Gag Take where Bill Hader is taunted by Jason Reitman for his bag handling ability, are included.

Cast and Crew Jam is a collage which members of the cast and crew all do various things in front of the camera, set to one of the songs from the film.

Screen Tests between Page, Cera and various members of the cast is included. It’s interesting to see the two actors working together, out of costume. It’s interesting to see the principles working with stand-ins and other actors auditioning for parts.

Way Beyond out Maturity Level: Juno is a making of piece featuring on the three younger actors: Cera, Page and Thirlby. It’s interesting to hear everyone discuss the characters and their relationships; it’s easy to see why they got along well as they all seem to be on the same page from the writer (Cody), the director (Reitman) and the cast. Page and Thirlby were close friends before the film, which made their chemistry much stronger on screen, and there are several other interesting tidbits as well.

Diablo Cody is totally boss is a short piece about Cody and her rise from someone who blogged about stripping to being an Oscar winning screenwriter. It’s interesting to hear the cast discuss what they thought when writing the script; it sounds a lot like a puff piece but at the same time it feels genuine.

Jason Reitman for Shizzis a look at Reitman. Another short piece, it does straddle on that border between being an EPK piece and being one with a lot of heartfelt greetings.

Honest to Blog: Creating Juno focuses on the film’s production. Hosted by Reitman and Cody,

Fox’s preview show, Inside Look, is available for the upcoming Ashton Kutcher vehicle What Happens in Vegas. Running about two minutes, nothing of note is said outside the film’s apparently flimsy plot (Kutcher and Cameron Diaz get married while drunk in Vegas, shenanigans arise).

There’s also a Commentary from Reitman and Cody included as well.

Trailers for the film’s soundtrack, Charlie Bartlett, The Savages, Lars and the Real Girl and Bonneville are included.

One of the best film’s of the year gets a solid, but unspectacular, release onto DVD. The film’s features really don’t add a lot back into the DVD experience. It’s worth owning for the film alone, however.

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Fox Searchlight presents Juno. Directed by Jason Reitman. Starring Ellen Page, Michael Cera, J.K Simmons, Olivia Thirlby. Written by Diablo Cody. Running time: 96 minutes. Rated PG-13. Released on DVD: April 15, 2008. Available at Amazon.com

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