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Juno is a teen facing an unplanned pregnancy by her classmate Bleeker. With the help of her best friend Leah, Juno finds her unborn child a "perfect" set of parents: an affluent suburban couple, Mark and Vanessa, longing to adopt. Though she faces some tough decisions, Juno flirts with adulthood and ultimately figures out where she belongs.
For more about Juno and the Juno Blu-ray release, see Juno Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on April 3, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Allison Janney, J.K. Simmons
Director: Jason Reitman
» See full cast & crew
Juno Blu-ray Review
The must-see movie of the year delivers a Blu bundle of joy.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, April 3, 2008
That little pink plus sign is so unholy.
As original a motion picture as Juno is, its story is certainly anything but. Walk into most any high school in the country and you're bound to meet Juno MacGuff, or a reasonable facsimile thereof. I should know, my wife teaches girls just like Juno world geography everyday. Juno takes something as simple (or is it?), mundane (really? ask Juno), and ordinary (can it ever be?) as teenage pregnancy and runs it through the ringer, showing us what one young girl, a young girl who is definitely a product of her (this) generation, just might go through during an unplanned pregnancy. Hers is a story original on-screen but one played countless times in hallways, classrooms, school busses, gym classes, bedrooms, living rooms, cars, recliners, and cyber spaces (but not outer spaces, or at least as far as we know) all around the world. Hers is the story of a girl, a family, a baby, a spirt, all in limbo, waiting for anything and everything--divine providence, happenstance, or even that little voice inside of you (in Juno's case almost literally)--to guide them to a place where harmony will once again prevail, where this anything-but-original story will have the ending they (or we) may not have hoped for, but the ending that will keep this old world spinning.
Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page, Hard Candy) has just found out she's pregnant. She verified it three times in the convenience store bathroom, and all in all, she's taking the news pretty well. Her boyfriend and father of the baby, Bleeker (Michael Cera, Superbad), after the initial shock of the news, settles into his role as father, well, as father for only a few brief moments. Juno has chosen to abort the baby, and Bleeker reaffirms and supports her decision, declaring himself "cool" with it. After that idea didn't work out quite as Juno had hoped, she discovers the joys of adoption and interviews for a barren couple, Vanessa and Mark Loring (Jennifer Garner, Catch and Release and Jason Bateman, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, respectively). Juno and Mark hit it off immediately, sharing a passion for music and horror films, and the couple decides to adopt Juno's baby once it arrives. Having only recently completed her first trimester, Juno has six months to come to terms with the topsy-turvy world her life has become, truly decide what's best for her and her baby (not to mention Bleeker), and do her best to ensure the survival of the status quo, at the very least.
Even though I am the furthest thing from a member of the target audience of this movie, I nevertheless was able to appreciate the magic it shows us, magic that is deeper and maybe a bit more meaningful than your average Saturday matinee spectacle. I'm almost certain that this movie will speak to and for this generation, one I'm several behind, and perhaps that's why the movie, taken as a whole, didn't quite click with me. I found myself lost under the avalanche of slang (some phrases sounding like some strange dialect I'd never heard before), but managed to piece the story together through the wonder of context clues. This script did manage to earn its author, Diablo Cody, an Academy Award for best original screenplay, and for the most part, I agree that it's at least worthy of the nomination, and perhaps even of the win. Compared to two of the additional four films it competed against (Ratatouille and Michael Clayton) that I've seen, I must agree that Juno was a worthy victor.
The only reason Juno succeeded as it did, in my opinion, is because of the outstanding performances by the leads. Sure, the script is there to guide them, but each actor manages to not only make the pages come alive, but to live them through and through, putting on a performance from top to bottom, from Juno to the least memorable character, whomever that may be, that is second-to-none in anything I've seen recently. Much like another film of recent vintage, Dan In Real Life, Juno is more lived than acted, the characters performing at such a fine level of excellence, the direction so smooth (thanks to the sharp eye of Jason Reitman), and the flow of the story so graceful that we can't help but feel a part of the film, a participant in the proceedings, witnessing the miracle of the creation of life and all that entails. Nevertheless, despite all the positives, I cannot claim Juno as one of my favorite movies of the year. The appeal is obvious and palpable, but as a product of a generation not too far detached from that of Juno, but never having really felt a part of that or any subsequent generation, much of the story beyond the more basic of its roots slipped past me, and perhaps that's a shame on me. I've oftentimes wondered which films I'd show to historical figures to allow them to "catch up" on the times, and Juno has shot to near the top of that list, a movie that everyone may not necessarily get, but one that is definitely charming, original, touching, and real, a product of this thing we call life in 2008.
Juno Blu-ray, Video Quality
20th Century Fox delivers Juno to Blu-ray in a fine 1080p presentation, one that recreates the somewhat less-than-glossy look of the movie very well. Go in expecting the movie to look like I, Robot and leave disappointed. Go in expecting the movie to emote a certain artistic license with its look, one that seems to shift as the setting, mood, and spirit of the film does, and leave satisfied. From what I took out of the experience, the image deliberately shifts in contrast several times, reflecting the mood of the film. The image seemingly brightens up when Juno meets the adoptive parents for the first time. As the movie shifts back and forth from their world to hers, I noticed an obvious shift in the contrast, as the image changes from one of joy, bright and natural lighting, solid, peppy colors that jump off the screen to a darker, grainer, more dank and drab, less colorful presentation when Juno is away from the Loring's. Overall, the contrast works, and the image obviously looks its best while the setting is at the Loring household. Those shots in other locales appear fairly dark in nature, as if a minor filter has been applied to make it a bit darker than natural. Other scenes, such as a medium distance shot of Juno near the beginning of the film, seemed excessively soft. A reddish tint seems to sneak its way in at times, noticed often in skin tones. All the colors are a bit dull, definitely on the other end of the spectrum and completely opposite of something like High School Musical 2. Still, it's effective and sets the mood of the film perfectly, and I remain impressed by the theatrical quality and look of the print. While Juno will never be reference grade material on Blu-ray, the image is definitely a plus, and recreates the mood of the film with an understated authority.
Juno Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Fox's DTS-HD MA 5.1 sound mix accompanying Juno is a pretty pedestrian one, but then again, this isn't an Arnold Schwarzenegger or Will Smith action vehicle, either. Dialogue and music are integral to the telling of this story, and both are well-represented and well-reproduced here. Both emanate cleanly and pleasantly from the front soundstage, focused in the center channel. A lot of folk-y music is included, and is integral to the story, although I must admit to not being able to accurately classify it beyond that point. It sounds fine, though much of it has a rough edge about it, a product of the style and definitely not of the sound mix. Actual dialogue is clear, well-prioritized and defined; the words coming out of the characters mouths (mostly Juno's) are clear and understandable, even if I didn't get all the slang. There are some minor niceties in the rear, such as a scene early in the film where a school jogging team runs past Juno, and we hear them move from the front to the rear flawlessly. The hodgepodge of sound at the abortion clinic proved a bit pleasing and a bit odd at the same time, though I guess it definitely set the mood of the scene and recreated the emotional roller coaster Juno was on at that moment in the film. This mix is best described as sufficient, one not meant to blow out your windows, rattle your foundation, and leave you breathless. Rather, it's simple yet elegant, much like the movie itself, and is a perfect compliment to the proceedings.
Juno Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Juno makes its high-definition debut as a feature-packed special edition. First up is a commentary track by director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody. This duo is very comfortable speaking about the film and its nuances, from custom-made underwear to Gibson guitars to the minor details we'll never even notice in the final product but add depth and realism to the film. Reitman discusses differing filming techniques, such as the use of the handheld camera when Juno only is on-screen. This is a very entertaining track, and listening to it adds another layer to the film and appreciating its overtones.
The disc also includes eleven deleted scenes (480p, 20:24) with optional commentary by the same participants from the feature-length track. A "gag reel" (480p, 5:11), and a "gag take" (480p, 1:57) that is definitely not family-friendly are also available. Crew Music Video (480p, 3:12) is a unique feature, showing the members of the cast performing for a music video. A series of screen tests (480p, 22:35) are also available for your viewing pleasure, showing the actors auditioning for the movie.
Moving along, we have Way Beyond "Our" Maturity Level: Juno-Leah-BLeeker (480p, 8:59) which showcases select scenes of the film intertwined by comments by Diablo Cody, Jason Reitman and several actors discussing the fine performances of the cast, the meaning of the characters, and the authenticity of the film. Diablo Cody is Totally Boss (480p, 8:35) provides a behind-the-scenes look at the history of the screenplay's origins, from Cody's early days of blogging, to her discovery, to writing the script, and the positive reactions to it. Jason Reitman for Shizz (480p, 8:08) examines the search for a director and how Jason Reitman's passion for the script, his desire to recreate the script accurately for the screen, and his real-life experiences lent positive energy and vigor to the end product, proving him to be the right man for the job.
Fox Movie Channel Presents: World Premiere...Juno (480p, 5:26) is a fluff promotional piece filmed outside the world premiere in Los Angeles. The movie is recapped and is followed by interviews with the cast and crew. Fox Movie Channel Presents: Casting Session: Juno (480p, 7:51) looks at how the choosing of the cast affected the final product, and how finding just the right actors made the movie into what it is, avoiding the trap of allowing the material to fall into the "after school special" realm. Finally, a digital copy of the film is included for use on your computer or portable video device. For more on how this works, please see the supplements review in Hitman.
Juno Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Juno has been one of the most talked about films of the year. Like it, hate it, or fall somewhere in the middle, you no doubt have an opinion on the movie, but one thing should be close to unanimous: it is very well made and acted, something every film fan should be able to appreciate, respect, and admire. Brimming with edgy, trendy dialogue, a timely (and timeless) story, and well-drawn characters, Juno is definitely a movie worth seeing if you have not already. Those who loved this movie will be most eager to add it to their Blu-ray collection. Sporting fine video and audio quality that both accurately and pleasingly reflect the tone of the story, this Blu-ray edition is not likely to disappoint. The supplements are fairly extensive and entertaining, but their presentation in 480p standard definition proved disappointing. Nevertheless, this Blu-ray disc is bound to find its way into many a collection, and it comes recommended.
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Juno Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blu-ray Sales on the Rise - March 26, 2008
New data from HMR Research shows that the 9 million movies have been sold on Blu-ray since inception of the format in the United States, with 3 million of those having been sold during the first 11 weeks of this year. If this trend continues, Blu-ray is poised ...
• Juno Gets Blu-ray Release - February 20, 2008
Fox Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the Academy Award nominated comedy 'Juno' to Blu-ray on April 15th, day-and-date with the DVD release. Video will be presented as 1.85:1 1080p AVC accompanied by a DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on a BD-50. ...
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