Director: Jason Reitman
Starring: Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bate man
Reviewer: Pamela Foohey
Perhaps the best movie I have seen in a long time, Juno follows in the tradition of Little Miss Sunshine, blending comedy and drama to create a lighthearted, romantic, hilarious, but still serious film. Ellen Page stars as Juno, a witty, perhaps even precocious, smart-mouthed teenager who becomes pregnant more from general boredom than any sort of teenage promiscuity. Forced to deal with her unexpected circumstances, Juno initially visits an abortion clinic, but turned off by the clinic’s atmosphere, ultimately decides to seek out adoptive parents (Garner and Bateman). Pregnant for the next seven months, Juno struggles to renew a relationship with the baby’s father and her former best friend (Cera) and survive high school as a pregnant teenager.
Despite Juno’s predicable story line and potentially cookie-cutter characters, Juno’s cast creates memorable characters, each unique, slightly odd, and endearing in their own ways. Combined with a great script (remarkably, the screenwriting debut of writer Cody Diablo), the entire cast’s performances make Juno delightful from beginning to end, and ultimately lead to Juno’s phenomenal success. But it is Page as Juno who really stands out, using Diablo’s witty and imaginative dialogue to craft a smart, sassy, occasionally profane, occasionally charming, but ultimately vulnerable character to which audiences are drawn, fall in love with, and remember long after the film is over.
It is no surprise that Juno has emerged from the obscurity of the indie film world. Both Juno and Page were nominated for golden globes (though neither won their category) and both are nominated for Oscars. Whether or not Juno prevails at the Oscars, it is not to be missed.
Director: Anne Fletcher
Starring: Katherine Heigl, James Marsden
Reviewer: Pamela Foohey
In contrast to Juno, whose script and characters easily could have caused it to become another predicable blend of comedy and drama, 27 Dresses does become another predicable romantic comedy. Predictable, chick flick, sappy, and rather boring are all words that can be used to describe 27 Dresses. Nevertheless, overlooking all of its sappy predictability, 27 Dresses is really not that awful.
Katherine Heigl stars as Jane, an idealistic, romantic, and completely selfless perennial bridesmaid. It seems that Jane’s ambition in life is to take care of other people, whether it be her boss (who she is in love with), any of the 27 brides she has served as maid of honor for, or her bratty, self-obsessed sister (who she allows to date her boss without objection despite being in love with her boss).
James Marsden stars as Kevin, the cynical “Commitments” columnist at a major New York newspaper who meets Jane at a wedding he is covering for the paper and who decides to make the perpetual bridesmaid the subject of a newspaper article that he hopes will deliver him out of the dull and sappy “Commitments” section even if the article destroys Jane. And such begins the next Cinderella story romantic comedy that follows the formula of most of its forerunners.
Yet, Heigl and Marsden do have chemistry, although the script is so formulaic that even their chemistry cannot rescue it and the other characters are so stuck in their sidekick roles (mean sister, oblivious boss) that Heigl and Marsden barely have a moment to emerge from all that is taking place around them. And Heigl stands well on her own as an actress, creating a likeable character with the girl-next-door appeal that makes 27 Dresses bearable. Though 27 Dresses delivers no more than any other romantic comedy, it doesn’t deliver less than any other and probably will be enjoyed by the romantic comedy set, which, honestly, is likely all its makers hope for or expect.
I Am Legend
Director: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Will Smith
Reviewer: Katie Mapes
The first 20 minutes of I am Legend are stellar. As the film begins, Robert Neville (Will Smith) hunts a herd a deer through the streets of an abandoned Manhattan, accompanied only by his dog. At the sound of a wrist watch alarm, he returns to his palatial apartment to eat dinner, wash the dog, then – at the sound of another alarm – shutter down the windows and huddle in the bathtub while the streets below fill with an eerie screeching.
The rest of the movie never quite lives up to that dizzying opening sequence. Pretty quickly, it starts to seem like a fairly conventional zombie movie with suspense derived mostly from Things in the Dark that jump out at you in unpredictable (or predictable) ways. There are also a number of plot inconsistencies – the less you think about large sections of the movie, the better.
What really elevates the movie, though, is Will Smith, who gives a masterful performance. For the major portion of the movie, he gets to interact mostly with his dog, rabid zombies, and department store mannequins, but he remains watchable and manages not to descend into hokeyness. And that, ultimately, is enough to compensate for a good number of the movie’s other flaws.