Juno is a strange, and certainly surprising, beast. A low budget, $6.5 million, movie with no big name stars, a storyline that has a 'questionably marketable' subject of teen pregnancy, and isn't a straight out comedy. So how is it then that the movie managed to gross $US228 million around the globe?
The answer to that is quite simply due to the superb script by Diablo Cody (which won the Academy Award for best Writing, Screenplay), and the stellar performance by Ellen Page which saw her nominated for Best Actress at the Academy Awards. Add to that a nomination for Best Directing for Jason Reitman, and a nomination for Best Picture and it's clear to see why this movie succeeded. Now, having seen this movie several times Juno is, in our minds, thoroughly deserving of all these accolades.
Juno tells the story of teenager Juno MacGuff. Faced with an unplanned pregnancy, this offbeat young woman makes an unusual decision regarding her unborn child. She embarks on a search to find the "perfect couple" to take on parenting responsibilities only to find life isn't quite so simple.
Fortunately Ellen is backed up by a strong supporting cast, not least of which is J.K. Simmons (who you may know from the Spider-man films) who puts in an equally impressive performance as her father. Not only does he bring the movie some of the more amusing moments, but also some wonderful heart as Juno's father. Surprisingly the father to be Paulie Bleeker (played by Michael Cera) has a pretty limited amount of time on-screen despite his relatively high billing. No doubt Michael has talent, and he certainly has plenty of charm and charisma, but don't expect any Superbad type screen domination. This movie is all about Juno's journey.
From the wonderful animated opening sequence, to the somewhat surprising conclusion Juno is a gorgeous movie. Well written, well directed, and well acted this is a movie with plenty of heart. No matter your age, or sex, this is a great movie sure to delight and it seems to only get better with repeat viewings.
Presented at 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec this movie is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and looks as good as one could expect. As such a low budget movie it's not surprising that the video doesn't have the gloss associated with Hollywood movies these days, but with a bitrate that hovers between 30 and 40Mbps it has been given every opportunity toshine. What we have here though is a somewhat gritty, 'down to earth', styled movie that goes for simplicity and realism rather then and over the top style. The transfer to Blu-Ray is, in that regard, a success with good levels of detail and accurate colour reproduction.
Having said that I really do think this movie could have done with a little less grain in some of the scenes and a little more sharpness in the detail in others. Indeed with a little more of that 'Hollywood' flare and sharpness this movie could quite easily have moved up into the realm of reference quality. Still, one thing is certain, this Blu-Ray transfer is vastly superior to the DVD release.
Subtitles are provided in English for the Hearing Impaired, Italian, German, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, and two other languages which, ermm, we're not sure about. The audio commentary is also subtitled in English, Italian, German, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish.
Audio Commentary with director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody: This is certainly the highlight of the extras on this disc with a lively and upbeat commentary that is a joy to listen to. Not only does the commentary cover the production, but also real-life issues. This is well worth a listen.
Deleted Scenes (20:24): Here we have 11 deleted scenes in total with an optional commentary from director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody. Many of these are extensions of scenes in the movie, and their reasons for being cut are varied. It's nice to have them on the disc though.
Cast and Crew Jam (3:12): An amusing video clip with the cast and crew from the movie jamming.
Screen Tests (22:34): Now this is what I love to see an extra on Blu-Ray. These screen tests, the majority of which include Ellen Page naturally, really shows why the actors were hired and how the characters may have developed from the initial tests to final filming.
Way Beyond "Our" Maturity Level: Juno-Leah-Bleeker (8:58): A look at the character the characters in the mvoie with interviews with the actors and Diablo Cody who wrote the movie, but based parts of her life, and characters in it, on the events in the movie.
Diablo Cody Is Totally Boss (8:37): This featurette focuses on Diablo Cody, the writer of the movie. This looks at how she started with her stripping blog (she was a stripper prior to writing Juno), and how she moved into writing this movie.
Honest to Blog Creating Juno (13:01): Jason Reitman and talks to screenwriter Diablo Cody about creating the story for Juno, what it was like writing her first screenplay and the impact it has had.
Fox Home Movie Channel Documentaries (13:17): Two featurettes 'Juno World Premiere' and 'Casting Session' are available. Being developed for TV they're a certainly little 'fluffy' and promotional in content (especially the Juno World Premiere featurette), but nice Blu-Ray exclusive bonuses.
Review By: Dave Warner