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Juno – Big Night Party – Starz Denver Film Festival 2007

JUNO (Jason Reitman) – BIG NIGHT PARTY – Starz Denver Film Festival 2007

After creating a new formula for laughing at the darker sides of life in “Thank You For Smoking,” director Jason Reitman is back and jumping high and wide over the sophomore slump with what is expected to be a comedic must-see, “Juno.”


Juno MacGuff, played by the stunning Ellen Page, is a 16-year old that considers herself to be one of the smart but weird girls in high school that jocks can’t help but have a secret attraction to. But for a moment, her heart and body lied with her quiet, nerdy best friend who is a boy, a pseudo musician, and a Dancing Elk track team member named Bleeker, played Michael Cera of “Superbad” fame. An overstuffed, dated and worn barker lounger is where the “first time” happened, and now she sits and stares at it sitting in the yard, contemplating the aftermath of what happens when birth control is not involved.

After downing a good sized bottle of Sunny D and running three pregnancy tests, the verdict is in: she’s pregnant. The opening segment is colorfully animated, but not in the Interpolated Rotoscoping, and the poignancy throughout the film is accented by the quirkiness of Moldy Peaches’ musical glitter.

Yes, teen pregnancy is no laughing matter really, but in this setting, the writing takes us from one moment of laughter to another as Juno forms a noose out of licorice, biting at the rope of sugar to release herself; calling the women’s pregnancy help line on her hamburger phone; and then giving her best friend the news, who aptly responds with a, “Honest to blog?”

The character of Juno is, by all accounts, a complete smart-ass, but Page’s delivery is so smooth and matter-of-fact you can’t help but be drawn into the dynamics of her life, including how she sees the world. After running into a classmate Su-Chin at the woman’s clinic, who is protesting outside with a sign, “Let babies be bored! Let babies be bored!” and experiencing an indifferent clinic worker, Juno decides to have the baby and give it up for adoption.

Right in line with the tone of the film, she finds her ideal couple in the Penny Saver, right next to an ad for exotic birds. The big step is telling her parents, who after receiving the news, are obviously disappointed. In that wry and dry way, they had hoped it was something less severe, like a drug problem or a DUI. But they are supportive, and as their characters begin to show their colors, it is clear how each of them, in their own way, contributed to Juno’s unique and quick witted nature.

The adoptive parents are Mark and Vanessa Loring (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner), living in the upscale suburban life in the 3,000 sq. ft. home in St. Cloud. Vanessa is the eager mother, in charge of the house and how things are run, and Mark is the guy who has lost his identity along the way, sequestered in his studio making jingles, right next to his Melvins 7” and back-in-the-day memories of a time when his opened for the punk pioneers. But it is Mark who becomes the only person that Juno can relate to and bond with during this trying time, and she often seeks refuge in their discussions on music and who makes the best horror flicks.

Reitman uses a creative array of metaphors throughout the film, some that may not make sense right away, but the most obvious is the changing seasons to mark the stages of Juno’s pregnancy. We also see the school’s Dancing Elk running team making appearances throughout the film, a constant reminder of the boy who Juno has decided to keep out of the picture.

Juno’s life begins to unravel as the marriage between Mark and Vanessa proves to be on shaky ground, but as this character has done in every other situation; she is able to come to important realizations and decisions that prove to be the right ones in the end.

I can’t say enough about the writing and acting by every character, including Cut Chemist as the, get this, chemistry teacher; Allison Janney as Juno’s stepmom and her handling of the ultrasound technician; and even the appearance of Rainn Wilson’s (The Office) part as Rollo, the convenience store clerk who is the first to find out about Juno’s pregnancy, as she emerges from the store’s bathroom with the plus-signed results.

There is no doubt that many, many people will not only see this film multiple times, but will continue to quote script lines long after the lights come up.

Juno is the featured film for the Big Night at the Starz Denver Film Festival, Saturday, November 10, 8:30 PM – Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

For more information on the schedule and all the wonderful films showing from November 8 through November 18, go to


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