Following up the subtle and sometimes brilliant Thank You for Smoking, Jason Reitman delivers Juno. This isn’t a one man show, however. It’s the script, loaded with witty, satirical banter by Diablo Cody and the performance of Ellen Page that sell this teenage dramedy completely. Juno is deserving of all praise lavished upon it during the awards season.
While some of Juno’s dialogue comes off well beyond the years of its characters, it’s hard to notice or even care about the petty issues with the film when it’s this funny. Taking a similar tone to that of 2006’s Little Miss Sunshine, Juno mixes the right amount of dark humor and underlying dialogue that requires multiple viewings to catch it all.
The film begins with an overly independent feel that almost seems too smart for its own good. However, as the story moves on, it avoids a pretentious “look at me” style, settling on a naturalistic direction that never gets in the way of the characters' interactions.
Juno isn’t all about the comedy, though. There’s a proper sense of dramatic elements that elevate the third act beyond a typical comedy. It leaves the viewer satisfied, and the final shot is a perfect cap to the story.
The laughs in Juno may not be wide reaching, as those who prefer a more forceful comedic approach may find themselves bored or uninterested. The laughs are generated through the performances and the delivery of the lines, not necessarily the lines themselves (though there are some superb quotables here). That’s nothing against this wonderful and certainly endearing comedy that ranks highly amongst other films of its genre in recent years.
The immediate appearance of this hi-def presentation is the strong color. It’s not oversaturated but is definitely not natural. There’s a fine layer of grain over the film that never becomes a distraction. Black levels are deep and rich. Sadly, detail remains flat throughout and the transfer never quite reaches perfection status.
Dialogue driven, the DTS-HD mix included here is a bit of overkill. Aside from a few moments of positional dialogue in the front channels (particularly in the school), there’s little to discuss. Character conversations are well mixed, ensuring the viewer hears the softer spoken lines as well.
A commentary with Reitman and Cody begins the extras, though it’s a shame Ellen Page isn’t here as Juno is just as much her film. Eleven deleted scenes run around 20 minutes, with an optional commentary. Seven minutes of outtakes provide some laughs.
Screen tests run for over 20 minutes and tend to drag on (though some laughs are to be had). Four featurettes include a solid making of piece, a feature on Reitman, another on Cody, and the last on the Juno character. Two promotional pieces that aired on the Fox Movie Network are the final pieces to a decent if unspectacular extras set.
Fox Searchlight Pictures handles almost all of the independent projects for the company. However, even with numerous popular efforts, Juno is the first to haul in $100 million theatrically.