Ever since Ray Liotta and Whoopi Goldberg starred in Corrina, Corrina, independent movies (indies) have been creeping into the landscape of American cinema.  The mid-90’s brought us Tarnatino and Smith, as well as the rise of Miramax.  But over the past few years, there always seems to be one indie that catches people by surprise and then gets overhyped.

  • My Big Fat, Greek Wedding — surprise comedy, by the time I saw it, my reaction was one of “eh”.
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon — saw it early in its run, so was impressed with everything.  Soon got tired of all of the parodies that followed.
  • Sideways — Average little movie, but not worth all of the hype and attention. Basically a film about a selfish little man.
  • Little Miss Sunshine — saw this one early, enjoyed it, but after hearing all of the post-release hype, had no desire to see it again.
  • Napoleon Dynamite — hated it — one of three people on the planet that hated it and is not afraid to say it. Unfunny.

The indie darling this time around seems to be Juno.  Being on the tourist side of town, I went to the Universal CityWalk AMC (which used to be a Loewes) and got in just as the previews were wrapping up.  The movie was crowded, which pleasantly surprised me; I thought everybody would be rushing to see Ice Cube’s new one.

The film has a rough quality to it — the picture is a little grainy.  This is a nice change to the crystal-clear, digital, see-every-blackhead look that a lot of films have today.  The credits were original-looking and added to the quirkiness of the movie.  The basic premise of the movie is that Juno is a 16-year-old who just found out that she is pregnant after her one time with her boyfriend, Bleeker.  I know what you are thinking:  “Didn’t we see this one already when we watched Saved?”  Yes and No.  Whereas Saved had an actual “villain” for the hero to struggle against, Juno is more interested in the internal struggles.  The movie had a lot of laughs, and I missed some dialog due to all of the laughter in the audience — that’s a good thing.

The casting was good in this movie.  Rainn Wilson’s appearance and dialog is worth the fact that he is on there only 5 minutes.  The director knew how to get the most out of his actors.  Jason Bateman portrays a grown-up, non-con-artist version of his character from Silver Spoons; Jennifer Garner is spot-on as a slightly OCD woman desparately wanting a child; J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney do well as Juno’s parents; and Michael Cera continues to perfect that awkward boy-becoming-a-man role he does.  Ellen Page does a good job as Juno, but I kept getting distracted by the fact that her style of talking and look was identical to Linda Cardellini’s current look and speech on ER — Of course this could be due to the fact that I had just watched an episode of ER earlier that day — However, it was like watching “Sam” as a 16-year-old.  The thing that I noticed most about this movie is that it was not about Juno’s pregnancy.  It was about the relationships of the characters; the pregnancy was a background thing that did not steal focus.

My advice: pay the full price — you won’t regret it.  It is even a decent date movie.  Just go see it before the hype gets out of control…

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