Thursday, February 28, 2008


So I finally saw Juno. What a sweet movie. First of all, great names. "Juno MacGuff." Her dad is "Mac MacGuff." The boyfriend's name is Paulie Bleeker. How cool is that - naming a character after a street in Greenwich Village? It's a slightly dangerous name, suggesting that he's depressed and bland. Which gives the actor something to work against.

And ooh the dialogue - just cracklin'. No wonder Diablo Cody won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Of course, someone who comes up with the name "Diablo Cody" for herself clearly has a great sense of style. This was one of my favorite quotes, Juno explaining that her Dad named her after Zeus' wife:

Yeah and I mean Zeus had tons of ladys but I'm pretty sure Juno was his main girl. And apparently she was supposed to be super beautiful but really mean, kind of like Diana Ross.

Oooh, snap!

I liked that the plot was relatively straightforward but not obvious. There aren't any oddball twists or surprises, but you don't know what's going to happen. Solid performances all the way around. Jennifer Garner had one of the toughest jobs, playing an uptight yuppie who could also be a very nurturing Mom. I loved that she was so desperate to be a mother - that really gives the movie some soul.

One thing I didn't realize until after I had left the theater is that J.K. Simmons was in Jason Reitman's last movie, "Thank You For Smoking." Completely different characters - in Smoking, he's a tobacco lobbyist and a real jerk, yelling and screaming for most of the movie. Here, he's a solid, working class guy, not the most sophisticated man in the world, but a damn good father. That's always a good sign - if an actor of his stature works with the same director on a different movie, he obviously enjoys working with this director. Allison Janney, always a solid presence, is very good as Juno's stepmom. It's great watching her, because although, like her husband Mac she's not the smartest woman around, she's tough and competent, with buried depths of wisdom.

I have to admit, tho, as much as I liked Juno, I didn't love it as much as I loved Thank You For Smoking. Although, to be fair, I LOVE Smoking - that's one of my all-time favorite movies. I do think the script for Juno is slightly better - the ending of Smoking is a little problematic for me. I think Nick Naylor needed to enjoy his victory a little more. But Juno is a much sweeter movie. Of course, Thank You For Smoking is Exhibit A of dark comedy, so that's not saying much.

Jason Reitman is the son of Ivan Reitman, who directed Ghostbusters. Ivan's last movie was "My Super Ex-Girlfriend," a waste of celluloid (although there is a bizarre B-movie charm to parts of it). To judge from that Uma Thurman misfire, Ivan isn't the director he once was. But the son has clearly learned great things from the father. The torch has been passed.

No comments: