Juno - BRD
(Jason Reitman, 2007)
Theatrical: Mandate Pictures & Mr. Mudd Production
DVD: 20th Century Fox Pictures Home Entertainment
Review by Leonard Norwitz
Region: 'A'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 36,784,414,738 bytes
Feature Size: 28,948,783,104 bytes
Video Bitrate: 32.52 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: April 15th, 2008
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3849 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3849 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio French 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB
English, Spanish, none
• Audio Commentary with the Director & Screenwriter, Diablo Cody
• Deleted Scenes w/Optional Commentary by Reitman and writer, Cody
• Gag Reel • Gag Take • Cast & Crew Jam • Screen Tests
• Way Beyond Our Maturity Level: Juno-Leah-Bleeker
• Diablo Cody is Totally Boss Featurette
• Jason Reitman for Shizz Featurette
• Honest to BlogI Creating Juno Featurette
• Fox Movie Channel Presents: x2
• Disc 2: Digital Copy for Portable Media Players
Described variously as a romantic comedy, a drama about teenage pregnancy, or a witty, sensitive coming of age film, this much praised movie written by first time screenwriter, Diablo Cody, is quite the little gem. I agree with the much-repeated theme of the bonus features, that the filmmakers tread a fine line, given a script that wanted to touch on all of the above.
They were right that much would depend on the casting, which again I agree they nailed perfectly. Ellen Page, who you might have seen in Hard Candy or as Kitty Pryde in X-Men: The Last Stand, is in pretty much every scene, and the film stands or falls on her performance. Given Ms. Page's brief uninspired interviews in the Extras, I conclude she is a fine actress (as did the Academy for granting her a nomination). She has that quality that Dustin Hoffman admonishes Terri Garr about in Tootsie ("Feel it, don't show it"), and about which many an actor today hasn't a clue. We must also credit Jason Reitman for seeing this possibility in Ellen and encouraging much the same across the board in his cast - except when the hysteria of the moment demanded otherwise. (Again, another deserved nod from the Academy for a Best Director nomination.)
As for Diablo Cody's screenplay (for which she won the Oscar, God bless 'er), few things make me feel my age as coming across language, ostensibly in English, that feels alien to me. Maybe it's my not having a teenage daughter that keeps much of the script at arm's length. I guess we (or, I) have Joss Whedon to thank for all this. Buffy, The Vampire Slayer (more the TV series than the film) was laden with idiosyncratic girlspeak and cultural references whose repeated utterances eventually sunk in. In Juno they simply come faster and furiouser. Juno, the character, is also smarter than Buffy, and she consciously differentiates herself from her peers, unlike Buffy, who is merely fated. Juno enjoys putting people off their track, whereas Buffy longs to one of the girls, but can't be.
I'm not as convinced by the color casting. Perhaps it's just a default of my aesthetic, but I generally don't much approve of heightened contrast and saturation even, as is probably the case here, to suggest a manifestation of the inner life of the protagonist. So take this caveat with the grain of salt advised.
The Score Card
The Movie : 8.5
Juno, a 16 year old high school junior (not far from Lake Wobegon, I imagine) becomes pregnant as a result of a one-night stand (actually, a sit) with her long-suffering fantasy boyfriend, Paulie Bleeker. Paulie seems to be willing to go with the flow when Juno confronts ("confronts" is really too strong a word) him with the news and her plan to adopt the little creature out at the moment it takes its first breath. While she evidently has thinly disguised mixed feelings about this, Juno sets about her plan, which brings her in short order to the door of the very well off Vanessa and Mark Loring. Vanessa has been longing for a child of her own for at least five years, and Juno is "104%" sure she will go through with it at the fruitful moment. It's that "104" that waters whatever seed that ought to have been placed in our minds already. All the same, things do not go quite as planned in unexpected ways – thus, our movie.
Image : 8.5 (7.5~8.5/8)
NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The score of 8.5 indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray DVDs on a ten point scale. The score in parentheses represents: first, a value for the image in absolute terms; and, second, how that image compares to what I believe is the current best we can expect in the theatre.
Interesting thing about the color palette in that it tended to reflect – make that, exaggerate - the season. So the color in the first half of the movie is more saturated warm colors, winter colors less so – actually, more normal – and so on, as if to reflect the heightened inner life of an adolescent. All the same, I found it problematic. At the very least, this is no demo image simply because there is no reference in reality most of the time. British Columbia, where Juno was filmed, is gorgeous, but it's not Fantasyland. I was inclined to rate the image as 8.0, but gave it the benefit of my doubt. Bit rates are high (upper 30's to mid 40's typically).
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Audio & Music : 8/9
I bought the LP of the soundtrack a while back in anticipation (not having seen the movie in its theatrical run), but I must say it works better for me in context, much better. The mix is near perfect in getting the balance between dialogue, voiceover and soundtrack songs in the best balance to support the drama at any particular moment.
Operations : 7
There is a wee video instruction manual that heads off the DVD after you first drop it into your player – you know, the part you usually fast chapter skip. Beyond that, the movie menu is about as sweet a rendering as ever we've seen, and nicely in keeping with the bloggish quality of the screenplay.
Extras : 9
Let's start with the Digital Copy for Portable Media Players. Peculiar language for what is, after all, merely a compressed version of the feature film downloadable into your iTunes (Mac or PC). The fact that it's "only" 1.1 GB is of little consequence when it comes to your average portable media player.
Some of the Extras are like scrap book entries of just a couple few minutes (Gag Reel, Gag Take, Cast & Crew Jam). Others are in the neighborhood of seven or eight minutes or longer (Screen Tests and the various featurettes). The Honest to Blog featurette is thirteen. It is here we get to know the people involved – not least, Diablo Cody - and how the original idea was realized into a movie. Oh yes, leave us not forget the running commentary provided by those most in the know: Reitman and Cody.
One point off for not being in HD, though the image quality is often very good. Otherwise, these are some of the best Bonus Features for a Blu-ray DVD this year, and we have to credit the extra downloadable disc.
March 30th, 2008
New captures added March 2010