Juno
And the winner for most realistic diorama goes to …


Golden Mug

NOMINEE:
Supporting Actress (Allison Janney)
Original Screenplay (Diablo Cody)

Theatrical Release Date: 12/05/2007
Director: Jason Reitman
Cast: Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman

Exhibiting much of the same cool, sly wit in his last directorial effort, “Thank You for Smoking“, Jason Reitman has taken the script by Diablo Cody (the best ex-stripper author off the top of my head) and turned in a beautiful gem of a film.

And while I’m happy to see that this has gotten a decent-sized release, this isn’t typical google-plex fare. It has the intelligence and sensibility of an indie film that found some billionaire to back it’s wider distribution.

The story of a pregnant teenager (Ellen Page) who wants to give her baby up for adoption to a couple in need of a child (Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman), this film somehow avoids the many possible pitfalls and ranks just below “Once” for 2007′s most heartfelt film.

“Juno” is not just a smart look at a young girl who realizes her unborn child will have more opportunities with someone more able to care for a child, it’s also a snapshot of what it takes to be a family.

The characters are larger than life; somewhat outlandish caricatures of our own families. Still, it is those quirks and peccadilloes that endear them to the audience. The leading cast is excellent, most noticeably Ellen Page. She should easily be nominated for her role (though I don’t trust the Hollywood machine) and look for her name to be called out at the 2007 Golden Mugs once I’ve measured up this year’s crop of films.

The supporting cast is another element that elevates this film from good to great. Olivia Thirlby plays Page’s best friend and while there isn’t much to her in the way of script or screen time, her character feels very genuine and helps to ground the film in its high school setting.

Page’s parents are the backbone for the film, played wonderfully by Allison Janney and J.K. Simmons. They are sarcastic, crazy and supportive, that odd mix that seems only able to come alive on screen.

Helping all of the actors along is a smart script, full of heart without being so cheesy as to cause heart disease, yet cheesy enough to affect even the grinchiest amongst us. Reitman’s direction helps to frame the characters in a light that not only exemplifies their eccentricities but their humanity as well.

Really all I can do from this point is poke and prod all of you to see this film. There is an air of “hipster mentality” that you might have to endure if you’re one of those types but I think if you can look past Michael Cera’s awkward, puppy dog schtick he’s got going these days, you’ll find a film well worth your time and money.

If you only see one film this year … see “Once“. If you get another few hours this holiday season, go check out “Juno”. A 5 out of 5 in my book, I now have to wait for the DVD to enjoy it without an audience full of cell phones and loudly munched popcorn.