Away We Go

  • Directors: Sam Mendes
  • Producers:
  • Writers: Dave Eggers, Vendela Vida
  • Genres: Comedy, Drama
  • Actors: John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph, Jeff Daniels, Carmen Ejogo, Jim Gaffigan, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Josh Hamilton, Allison Janney, Melanie Lynskey, Chris Messina, Catherine O Hara, Paul Schneider

The film opens with a young couple, Verona De Tessant (Maya Rudolph) and Burt Farlander (John Krasinski), in bed and about to engage in oral intercourse. However, Burt soon notices that Verona “tastes” differently, and explains to her that it might be a potential sign that she is pregnant. She promptly slaps him across the face in disbelief, causing him to tumble out of the bed.

About 6 months later, we find Verona well into her pregnancy with a baby girl, and Burt trying to find ways to make himself a good parent for their newcoming baby (trying to take on skills like carpentry and woodcarving, which he mistakes as “cobbling”, the craft of shoemaking). They begin to analyze their lives, wondering if they are “screwups”, as they are both in their early 30’s and still struggling to provide an actual home and demands to meet their daily needs and fulfilling lives (and also unmarried, as Verona fails to see the point in doing so). They then visit their only family in the area, Burt’s parents, Gloria and Jerry (Catherine O’Hara and Jeff Daniels), only to find out that they have decided to move to Antwerp, Belgium for 2 years, leaving a month before the baby is due, since it was one of their lifelong goals. Frustrated at their selfishness and ill-thinking, Verona and Burt decide it’s best to try and find somewhere else to live and to raise their family, as they have no other reason to stay in the area now that Burt’s parents are leaving.

While sitting outside in the yard, Verona then recounts a story about her father trying to grow an orange tree in the yard of their old house, to not much success. So, Verona, her mother, and her sisters went out with pineapples and various other fruits, duct tape, and string, and hung up the fruits on the tree to please their father, making him laugh considerably. She remembers this fondly, causing the couple to then travel to her old home, and realizing that it truly is the place that they should make as their new home. The film closes with Burt and Verona on the patio of the house, overlooking the nearby lake together.

Hairspray

  • Directors: Adam Shankman
  • Producers: Adam Shankman, Craig Zadan, Neil Meron, Bob Shaye, Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman, Toby Emmerich
  • Writers: John Waters, Thomas Meehan, Leslie Dixon, Mark O Donnell
  • Genres: Comedy, Musical, Romance
  • Actors: Nikki Blonsky, John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, James Marsden, Zac Efron, Amanda Bynes, Queen Latifah, Brittany Snow, Elijah Kelley, Allison Janney, Taylor Parks, Jerry Stiller, Paul Dooley

May 3, 1962. Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky), a cheerful, rotund high school student living in Baltimore, Maryland steps out of her apartment (“Good Morning Baltimore”), only to endure a day’s worth of school so she and her best friend Penny Pingleton (Amanda Bynes) can race home to view their favorite TV show, The Corny Collins Show. The program, a teen dance show, is broadcast from Baltimore’s station WYZT on weekday afternoons (“The Nicest Kids in Town”).

The teenagers featured on the show attend Tracy and Penny’s school, among them the arrogant and wealthy Amber Von Tussle (Brittany Snow) and her boyfriend Link Larkin (Zac Efron), the lead male dancer on the show. Amber’s mother, Velma (Michelle Pfeiffer) manages station WYZT and goes out of her way to make sure that Amber is prominently featured and that The Corny Collins Show remains a racially segregated program. Corny Collins (James Marsden) and all of his “Council Members” are white; black kids are only allowed on The Corny Collins Show on “Negro Day”, held the last Tuesday of each month and hosted by local R&B radio disc jockey Motormouth Maybelle (Queen Latifah), who also owns her own record shop on North Avenue.

Against all expectations, Little Inez receives the most votes and wins the pageant, officially integrating The Corny Collins Show. A perturbed Velma loudly declares her frustration, informing her daughter of the tally-switching scheme. Unknown to Velma, Edna and Wilbur have turned a camera on her, and Velma’s outburst is broadcast on the air, causing her to be fired from the program. Meanwhile, The Corny Collins Show set explodes into a celebration as Tracy and Link cement their love with a kiss (“You Can’t Stop the Beat”).

Juno

  • Directors: Jason Reitman
  • Producers: John Malkovich, Lianne Halfon, Mason Novick, Russell Smith
  • Writers: Diablo Cody
  • Genres: Comedy, Drama
  • Actors: Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Allison Janney, J K Simmons, Olivia Thirlby

Sixteen-year-old Minnesotan high-schooler Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) discovers she is pregnant with a child fathered by her friend and longtime admirer, Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera). While at first she intends to have an abortion, she changes her mind and decides to make a plan for the child’s adoption. With the help of her friend Leah (Olivia Thirlby), Juno searches the ads in the Pennysaver and finds a couple she feels will provide a suitable home. Along with her father, Mac (J. K. Simmons), Juno meets the couple, Mark and Vanessa Loring (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner), in their expensive home and expresses a desire for a closed adoption.

Vanessa is extremely anxious around Juno and their initial interactions are uneasy. However, Juno and Leah happen to see Vanessa in a shopping mall being completely at ease with a child, and Juno encourages Vanessa to talk to her baby in the womb, where it obligingly kicks for her. On the other hand, Juno more easily forms a friendship with Mark, with whom she shares tastes in punk rock and horror films. Mark, who has set aside his rock band youth (now confined to memorabilia displayed in the one room of the house allowed him by Vanessa), works at home composing commercial jingles. Juno hangs out with Mark a few times, ignoring a warning from her stepmother Bren (Allison Janney) that she should not spend time alone with a married man.

After a heartfelt discussion with Mac, Juno accepts that she loves Paulie. Juno then tells Paulie that she loves him, and Paulie’s actions make it clear that her feelings are reciprocated. At his track meet, when Paulie notices Juno is not in the stands and realizes she must be in labor, he rushes to the hospital to be with her (she had not told him because she did not want him to miss the meet). He arrives to find Juno has given birth to their son, and comforts Juno as she cries. Vanessa comes to the hospital where she joyfully claims the newborn boy as a single adoptive mother. On the wall in the baby’s new nursery, Vanessa has framed Juno’s note—addressed only to her—which reads “Vanessa: If you’re still in, I’m still in. —Juno.” The film ends in the summertime with Juno and Paulie playing guitar and singing together, followed by a kiss.