Diablo Cody won an Oscar for the screenplay of JUNO. Whether you like the movie or not you’ve got to agree that the film had a distinctive voice and clear vision. But that’s because it was sold to an independent. If Cody had sold the spec script to a major Hollywood studio however, this is the notes memo I imagine the producer would receive:
First of all the title is confusing. JUNO. It’s the same name as that city in Alaska, even spelled the same way. Research tells us that Nina is a popular name with the target demographic. Also Kristin, Chloe, and Caitlin (but with a C, not a K).
When Juno says “it all started with a chair”, we’re missing an opportunity for a block comedy scene and a trailer moment by not seeing the actual sex act between Juno and her boyfriend. Make it funny and not explicit of course. We’re missing a bet for physical comedy – two horny teenagers, a chair – imagine young versions of Jim Carrey and Carol Burnett. Wow!
In this current draft the parents react to Juno’s pregnancy announcement by accepting it. This seems false. We’ve certainly never seen a scene like this. We believe they should be furious. Unless they really scream at Juno we don’t believe they love her.
The very notion of an abortion clinic is a downer. Not to mention controversial. Do we even have to raise this issue? How ever they handled it in KNOCKED UP, just do that.
Are there really cheeseburger phones? Let’s just make it a cellphone so we can sell the product placement.
Can Juno’s girlfriend be funnier? Give her a “tude” as the kids say. As it is now she’s just supportive and quirky and allows Juno to describe her true feelings so what’s the point?
We love when Juno’s mother tells off the ultra-sound person. Do more of that. Let her tell off Juno’s teachers. Let her tell off the kids who don’t approve of Juno. It’s even worth adding characters so the mom can tell them off too.
You set up this great potential relationship with Juno and the yuppie husband but never pay it off. What if they sleep together? Think of all the fun complications that could cause. Not to mention all the possibilities for comedy. Sex with someone with a big belly – clumsily trying to find a good position, she could be on top of him and crush him with her weight, he could hurt his back. Again, nothing explicit but there’s got to be a way of making sex with a middle aged man and a pregnant teenager hysterical.
At the end the teen boyfriend/father should declare that he won’t let Juno give away her baby – THEIR baby. Just picturing that moment gives us chills. And when Juno sees her baby for the first time, her heart melts…and trust us, test scores will go right through the roof. Juno realizes there’s no way she could give up this precious child to someone else and she and the father agree to raise it themselves. It’s more satisfying and sets us right up for the sequel. Remember, we’re not making movies, we’re making franchises.
Casting: Ellen Page will not sell tickets. We’ve taken the liberty of slipping the script to Miley Cyrus along with a firm offer. If she passes we feel Amy Adams could play young.
We like your suggestion of Jennifer Garner but not as the yuppie wife. The part of Juno’s mother is bigger and has that great scene with the ultrasound technician. Not that Allison Janney isn’t a gifted actress but with that much screen time we’d prefer someone who is more attractive. Jason Bateman we’ve never heard of. We understand he comes from television. Ben Affleck would be a better choice. For the friend we envision that girl from HAIRSPRAY. The minute you see her on the screen you know – comic relief.
Jason Reitman is a talented director but very “independenty”. Tom Shadyac is looking for something after EVAN ALMIGHTY. We’ve been trying to get into business with him since THE NUTTY PROFESSOR. This could be the project. We’ve also taken the liberty of making a firm offer.
And finally, the dialogue in this script is way too stylized. Half the time we have no idea what the characters are saying. We have grave concerns that this baby writer does not have the skill or experience to elevate this script to the level of AMERICAN PIE, which is how we envision it. We strongly recommend you replace her. We have a list of approved writers – all Ferrally Brothers veterans.
JUNO has the chance to become a breakout hit. Funny, provocative, and deeply touching. But first we have to change it radically from its present form.