Sunday, March 9, 2008

Juno (2007)

Su-Chin: I'm having a little trouble concentrating.
Juno: Oh well I could sell you some of my Adderall if you want.
Su-Chin: No thanks I'm off pills.
Juno: That's a wise choice because I knew this girl who like had this crazy freak out because she took too many behavioral meds at once and she like ripped off her clothes, and dove into the fountain at Ridgedale Mall and was like, "Blah I am a Kracken from the sea!"
Su-Chin: I heard that was you.

Juno: Yeah, I'm a legend. You know, they call me the cautionary whale.

Juno: You should've gone to China, you know, 'cause I hear they give away babies like free iPods. You know, they pretty much just put them in those t-shirt guns and shoot them out at sporting events.

Bren: When you move out I'm getting two Weimaraners!
Juno: Whoa, dream big!

At a glance: Diablo Cody’s quirky Oscar-winning screenplay about teen pregnancy is skillfully brought to the screen by director Jason Reitman and a talented cast, headed by the unique Ellen Page.

Juno (Ellen Page) is sixteen and her moment of passion with Paul (Michael Cera), a boy she doesn’t even know she is in love with, ends with a pregnancy. Unable to go through with her initial decision to have an abortion, she opts for pregnancy, finding a picture-perfect childless couple (Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman). Director Jason Reitman, coming off the success of Thank You For Smoking, follows it up with his deft understated comedic touch. Page is a standout, showing real talent and a looseness in body and voice that shows she’ll be able to play a variety of roles. The script divides good lines among the cast, which is rounded out by Allison Janney and J.K. Simmons. Cera is my personal favorite, portraying the sensitive, intelligent, soft-spoken, unsure nerd character he brought to comic life in the Arrested Development TV series. Deservedly, Diablo Cody won the 2008 Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Rating: 3.5 of 4

" smart, witty, and engaging -- three ingredients that, when applied to any film, comprise a recipe for success."
- James Berardinelli (ReelViews)

"That essence of pugnacious energy that is Ellen Page has just taken another solid step toward certain stardom."
- Jules Brenner (Cinema Signals)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Enchanted (2007)

Robert (Patrick Dempsey) [sarcastically] Welcome to New York.
Giselle (Amy Adams) [sincerely] Oh, thank you very much!

Giselle: I remember this one time, when the poor wolf was being chased around by Little Red Riding Hood around his grandmother's house, and she had an axe... oh, and if Pip hadn't been walking by to help I don't know what would've happened!
Morgan (Rachel Covey): I don't really remember that version.
Giselle: Well, that's because Red tells it a little differently.

Morgan: Remember not to put too much makeup or the boys may get the wrong idea. They are only after one thing.
Giselle: What's that?
Morgan: I don't know. They won't tell me.

At a glance: This Disney comedy of a fairytale princess who is banished to New York City manages to combine a hilarious parody of Disney’s own animated fairytale films with a sincere love story and blend it into a movie that will appeal to young and old.

Giselle (Amy Adams) is a beautiful sweet young girl who lives in an animated, fairytale world. There, she falls in love with handsome Prince Edward (James Marsden). But her love can de-throne the prince’s evil mother, Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon). And so she is banished to a dark world of unhappiness and terror: live-action New York! Here, she is taken in by Robert (Patrick Dempsey),  a good-hearted but melancholy lawyer, and Morgan (Rachel Covey), his six year old daughter. Initially, Robert thinks Giselle is either mad or from out of town, but slowly, he is taken in by her sincerity and beauty. Likewise, Giselle, in her first real friendship/relationship, falls for him too. In the meantime, their ‘real’ world is invaded first by Prince Edward, then by the Queen’s evil sidekick, Nathaniel (Timothy Spall), whose mission is to stop Giselle and the Prince from finding each other and getting married. When Nathaniel fails, the Queen herself gets involved.

The combination of Dempsey, who plays it absolutely straight, contrasted against Adams, who should win some sort of special Oscar for how she makes the naivete of Giselle absolutely believable, is a wonderful thing to watch. Sharing some of its core values with movies like Miracle on 34th Street, it is a story about loss of innocence and the death of romance - how empty people’s lives are when the belief in romance and ‘true love’ dies, and how more fulfilling it is to maintain that belief (even if it truly is a leap of faith to do so). It’s rare when a film can combine a completely imaginary and humorous fantasy storyline with one that addresses human emotions with such sincerity.

But don’t get the wrong idea – this is not a Swedish melodrama. Along the way while telling its tale of redemption, there are plenty of hilarious lines and scenes. Perhaps my favorite was a elaborate, live-action ‘cleaning up’ scene, complete with scrubbing bubble cockroaches (one of which is unceremoniously eaten by a pigeon, and all in time to typically jaunty whistle-while-you-work music). The songs by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz also deserve a special mention for helping to set the mood. Rating: of 3.5 of 4

"One of those rare pieces of 'all ages entertainment' that will actually work for all ages, Enchanted succeeds most of all as a showcase for its superb leading lady."
- Geoff Berkshire (

"Disney's Enchanted is the sweet, lighthearted antithesis to the more serious fare this holiday season, fueled by a thoroughly captivating performance from Amy Adams."
- Kit Bowen (

"What pushes the film over the top is the terrific turn by Adams, who really seems like a Disney heroine come to life."
- Matt Brunson (Creative Loafing)