Friday, January 11, 2008

Top Movies of 2007: Your Junk Smells Like Pie

Because the month of January sucks at running, I'm boycotting the sport for the coming weeks, and placing my allegiances squarely with Hollywood, for whom January is a font of delicious goodness, like one of those chocolate fountains you'll see at wedding receptions and the occasional Sweet Sixteen. Below I document my journey through the Best Movies of 2007 in preparation for the Oscars...

I'm taking a brief respite from the movies for the weekend. But first, last night: Juno suffers from having most of its best laughs spoiled in the trailer, but for an off-beat, potentially under-the-radar film, you can't blame the handlers from wanting to make sure folks get to the theater in the first place. What happens therein, after the jump.

JUNO, dir. Jason Reitman

It would be easy to dismiss Juno as Knocked Up 2: Baby in Biology but with fewer laughs than the original. But suggested in Juno is the idea that the aims for this film, were less comedy-driven than the summer's Judd Apatow joint. To be sure, Juno is a movie that's very funny in places, driven most frequently by Ellen Page's sparkling performance as the knocked-up high school junior who speaks in pop culture shorthand and who finds herself increasingly drawn to the adult world due to said knocking-up. But, to wit: the best scenes in the movie are those which delve into the personal struggles of the adoptive parents (Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner) that Juno found for her fetus. Those moments are raw and much more "real" than the quippy, sometimes too-cute scenes that opened the film.

This is not a perfect movie -- the quirkiness of the characters seems rote in spots, Paulie's (Michael Cera) orange tic-tac addiction more the duty of the spec, small-flick screenwriter than a naturally-occurring character trait, and the soundtrack is a stream of small acoustic indie-style songs, a tack both repetitive and done before and done better. And frankly, that this is Roger Ebert's Top Film of 2007 may be even more of an indication that his brush with death has made him an old softy, than his recent spate of 4-star awards to every film in sight. But Juno's screenplay is genuinely funny and sweet, and the performances charming and well-toned. If I got knocked up and had pushed this movie out through my loins, I would be a proud papa indeed.

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