Juno

Like a waterfall of orange-flavored tic-tacs, the Juno DVD pours onto store shelves. The film surprised everybody becoming a pop culture phenomenon, sparking heated internet debates and winning a best screenplay Oscar. Its story deals with a controversial topic of teen pregnancy. Through this life altering event, the title character learns that love and adulthood can’t fit her perfect expectations. Similarly, the plot doesn’t conform to expectations for a movie like this. Diablo Cody’s story makes this movie work. She fills her script with smart dialogue, real characters, and humor that doesn’t rely on gags. It’s tender, but never tacky.

Amazingly, people exist who haven’t seen Juno yet. This DVD bundle will make even more fall in love with the movie. Following recent stellar releases like Superbad, Juno bursts with special feature sweetness. The commentary by Director Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody is one of the least quiet tracks ever. From start to finish, Reitman and Cody give oodles of details and hidden meanings you might have missed. Reitman is very detailed and lets us imagine ourselves standing around on set. Cody gushes at seeing her creation emerge on-screen. The recording session feels refreshingly relaxed and mostly unrestrained. Cody steps on Reitman’s toes a couple of times, which is very humorous. Nobody should skip the commentary.

The title screen features more of the hand drawn animation from the opening titles and wonderful acoustic guitar music. Like the main feature, the ten deleted scenes come with commentary by Cody and Reitman. Many people, including myself, want to understand why interesting scenes were deleted. I don’t know why some special editions just throw theirs on without saying anything.

My favorites include “Café Triste,” a scene where Juno performs a solo folk show at a café and sings about getting pregnant. Somebody references Juno’s eight minute song about Danny Trejo at one point. Ex-convict Trejo frequently plays tough badasses in movies like Con Air and Desperado. Just that makes it a great stand-alone scene. In “Mark Plays Guitar,” a bored adoptive-father-to-be Mark plays guitar with the amplifier turned off. It’s very humiliating and therefore worth watching. Gag Take is a shot of Rainn Wilson (NBC’s The Office) as the drugstore clerk fuming at Director Jason Reitman’s insistence he redo the take for the umpteenth time. The anger between Wilson and Reitman is clearly faked, but hilarious nonetheless.

The Screen Tests are interesting because of how rough they are. It must be one of the earlier casting sessions since Michael Cera and Ellen Page look like they’re still figuring out their characters. They’re right for the part. But only towards the later clips do their performances grow more familiar. What’s really striking is Page’s absolutely exhausted face. Over-preparation perhaps? Looking like she went to one hell of a party the night before may have helped her land the part. It’s also shocking to see different actors playing what are now familiar characters. I can’t see anyone but Allison Janney playing mother Bren MacGuff. J.K. Simmons also seems set as father Mac Macguff.

I left my aversion to the box art till the end, since clearly the contents are way tastier. A giant box of tic-tacs with a drawing of Juno and Paulie inside, is an off-the-wall idea I’d like to have seen. I should apologize to Jason Reitman for not mentioning him at the start of this review. I’m Cody crazy, what can I say? Reitman’s very talented and organized and, unlike some directors, shows enthusiasm in explaining how he did things. I found the Juno Special Edition fun and informative. Like Paulie Bleeker’s favorite one-calorie breath mint, nobody can have too much fun and enjoyment from the most popular movie of 2007.

Extras Include:
Disc 1:
Audio Commentary by Director Jason Reitman and Screenwriter Diablo Cody
Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody
Gag Reel
Gag Take
Cast and Crew Jam
Screen Tests
Way Beyond “Our Maturity Level: Juno – Leah – Bleeker Featurette
Diablo Cody Is Totally Boss Featurette
Jason Bateman for Shizz Featurettes
Honest to Blog! Creating Juno Featurette

Disc Two:
Digital Copy of Juno for Portable Media Players

The Upside: The Juno special edition is fun for movie fans and film school students alike. The commentary isn’t boring and rehearsed.

The Downside: Geez, Banana give me different box art than the standard edition.

On the Side: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has given Target an exclusive copy of Diablo Cody’s shooting script for Juno. Go there for the bonus feature, but shame on Fox for not including on all the special editions.

Grade: A-


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