Juno

20th Century Fox
Movie •••• Picture •••½ Sound ••• Extras ••••

"A pregnant 16-year-old carries a baby to term." Sometimes, a plot description just doesn't prepare you for how good a quiet little movie can be. Coming at you sideways - much like, well, Sideways - Juno is another low-keyed, dry-humored, and incredibly enjoyable celebration of immature life. And just like Sideways, it would go on to receive Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Director (Jason Reitman). The great cast is inspired, as the young actors - led by another nominee, Ellen Page, in the title role - surprisingly hold their own with their seasoned colleagues.

The DVD sound is clear, essential to understanding all the twisted sentences these teens come up with - courtesy of first-time (!) screenwriter Diab­lo Cody, whose witty script won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. The super-excellent pop-music sound­track is a blend of classics (the Kinks) with kooky contemporary stuff (Kimya Dawson), and the lyrics are always intelligible. There's next to no surround-channel action; in fact, when Juno walks through a crowd of gossiping kids and the sound suddenly plunges in amongst them, I was completely startled. Then again, consistently immersive sonics aren't what this movie is about.

Initially, I was surprised at how impressively bright and colorful this low-budget indie pic appears on DVD. But since Juno was such a phenomenal theatrical success, I guess the studio decided to splurge, and it has delivered a commendable transfer. Although some shots are soft - you can only do so much with fuzzy source materials - the picture is generally sharp. It also has very good contrast, with Dad's jacket deep black, Mom's lacy dress decently white, and the rest of the images bouncing with comically saturated colors. From the scarlet running suits and popping yellow shorts of the track team to Juno's more subdued clothes, all tones are dense, without bleeding. Skin tones are a little overpink at times, but that may just be adolescence.

Extras include a commentary by Reitman and Cody that's as oddball as the movie. There are occasionally entertaining deleted scenes, surprisingly accomplished screen tests, a fun cast jam, and three very watchable featurettes. Disc 2 of this Special Edition is reserved for a digital copy of the movie, allowing you to enjoy it over and over again while you're away from your home theater lair.

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