Since my cinema review of Juno back in February it has enjoyed much critical acclaim and won many awards, most notably an Oscar for Diablo Cody's original screenplay. As after a second watch of the film on DVD my opinion of it has remained much the same, so I have little to add about the feature presentation (to read that review click here). The one thing I will say, however, is that it has lost none of its charm the second time around, and I enjoyed the performances and quirks as much as in my initial viewing.
The humble DVD, living on borrowed time as it is now, has let me down recently with less than enthralling region 2 offerings, so I am pleased to confirm a restoration in equilibrium with the fantastically crammed Juno release...
The 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer is as polished as you'd expect for a recent release distributed by a major studio. Sharp (or should I say low-budget sharp, just a couple of notches short of those big budget features) and blemish free, the contrast is just right, the shadow detail goodand the colours vivid enough to leap out of the screen at times.
The soundtrack is 5.1 only and has very good clarity and dynamic range. The frontal separation is restricted to the music and some sound effects, and there's not much going on at the rear. None of which harms the film one iota.
There is also an English descriptive track, which is performed with more enthusiasm than is usual for this type of extra.
There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish. Most impressively, all five are also available for the commentary track.
Opening with a menu in the style of the title sequence of the film (created by Shadowplay Studio, who also did titles for Reitman's first feature Thank You For Smoking), one is given this list of special features:
Audio commentary by Director Jason Reitman and Writer Diablo Cody
Director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody create a good double act on this commentary track, Reitman discussing screenplay concepts with Cody as well as camera placement, lighting ideas and use of music. They bounce off each other wittily with Reitman's admiration for Cody's script ever present. The actors are also given due attention by the duo and the relaxed atmosphere in their conversational style makes it an enjoyable listen.
Deleted Scenes (20:25)
No less than eleven deleted scenes, featuring all the main characters, with commentary on each by Reitman and Cody, giving detailed insight into the reasons why each scene did not make the final cut.
Gag Reel (5:12)
What begins as the old staple blooper montage becomes something a little more interesting when Ellen Page manages to conquer her giggling fit and deliver a flawless line in a heartbeat. I could watch her at work all day.
Gag Take (1:55)
A mock up of an actor's on set hissy fit with Rainn Wilson who plays a cameo in the movie as a shopkeeper. It doesn't really add anything to the set for me, but it's a bit of a laugh nonetheless.
Cast and Crew Jam (3:10)
I would class this in the same way as the gag take. A montage set to a rock track where cast and crew get to strut their stuff with their instrument of choice. Silly, fun, but ultimately pointless.
Screen tests (22.32)
A rather mammoth entry on the disc, this contains pre-production test scenes in full between leading players, much of which is translated directly to the film. Once again it's great to see the wonderful Page at work, and in these stripped down conditions the focus is wholly on the performances, with Page sharing scenes with the beautifully understated Michael Cera as well as Olivia Thirby (Juno's best friend Leah) and on screen father J.K. Simmons.
A DVD staple nowadays it would seem, the one long making-of documentary cut into featurettes.
Way Beyond "Our" Maturity Level: Juno-Leah-Bleeker (8:55) looks at the leading teenage roles. It is an informative feature but goes the way of all these featurettes in going a little far with the industry arse-kissing that seems to appear solely on American film extras. There are only a certain amount of times one wants to hear how great everyone was during the production.
Diablo Cody is Totally Boss (8:35) is a bit more than the usual inane sucking up though, as the story of Cody's light speed rise to Oscardom is one of enough interest to fill more than the eight and a half minutes it is allocated here. She will no doubt be the envy and inspiration of amateur writers everywhere.
Jason Reitman For Shizz (8:02) gets producers and cast members together to praise Reitman's direction. This is fair enough, but if these things gave half as much attention to technical and practical facets of the director's skill as they do praising him whimsically, there would far more substance to such a feature.
A presentation by Reitman and Cody summarizing the Juno experience, Honest to Blog! Creating Juno (13:00) generally treads the same waters as the previous featurettes, although the odd questions posed by Reitman to Cody and vice versa probe a little more out of each other, and there are some more talking heads from the cast about their experiences on the film.
At first glance there is a lot to get through on this DVD collection but when you get down to the last featurette it is evident that there is quite a degree of repetition towards the end. If the praising and platitudes were removed and all the featurettes edited together it would make a good 'making of'. However, the commentary, deleted scenes and screen tests make up for discrepancies elsewhere. Also, it is good to see such a lot crammed onto just one disc, showing that many two disc sets with far less extras included, are a ridiculous ploy and a waste of plastic.
When all is said and done this a good release for a good film. There is some filler, but all the rest is indeed killer!