by Evelyn Garcia, A&E Editor, published on Monday, April 10, 2017 - 9:33 PM|
Most people remember and love the film “Juno,” about the witty outcast teenager (Ellen Page) who faces an unplanned pregnancy with her best friend and admirer, Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera). The film’s unique approach to the topic, alongside delightful humor and great performances, garnered it much attention and even an Oscar win for writer Diablo Cody for best original screenplay. It’s been 10 years since then, so in honor of the film’s anniversary, director Jason Reitman decided to put together a live read as he has with other films, this time to benefit Planned Parenthood.
For five years, Reitman presented live-read shows for various films and believed he wouldn’t return. That is, until President Donald Trump won the election. Reitman gathered an all-star, all-female cast to live-read the script at the theater at the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles Saturday, with all proceeds going to Planned Parenthood.
In the weeks leading up to the event, Reitman used social media platforms to encourage people to donate, attend and enjoy the evening during a difficult and uncertain time under a new administration. Information tables with merchandise, donation boxes and forms to sign up to volunteer at Planned Parenthood were lined up inside the venue as attendees mingled before the show.
The night began with Barry Louis Polisar playing the recognizable “All I Want is You” from the Juno soundtrack. Cheers erupted as the audience sang along. Immediately following, Sue Dunlap, CEO of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, walked on stage. She addressed the need for the audience to stand up for Planned Parenthood, and then requested they literally stand up as she explained the important services the organization provides. Dunlap posed the question, “If not now, when?” multiple times to drive the point home on the importance behind taking action. “We will not go back,” Dunlap shouted over applause.
The audience was then treated by another performance, this time by Kimya Dawson, who sang “Tire Swing,” another song on the soundtrack and a fan favorite. Reitman joined the stage and echoed the importance of ensuring Planned Parenthood is supported, saying Juno had a choice, referring to her initial decision in the film to get an abortion, then ultimately putting her baby up for adoption. Ellen Page and Jennifer Garner effortlessly reprised their original roles as Juno MacGuff and Vannesa Loring, respectively.
The two were joined by Kristen Wiig as Vanessa’s husband Mark (originally Jason Bateman), Alia Shawkat as Paulie Bleeker, Tig Notaro as Juno’s father Mac (J.K. Simmons), Tracee Ellis Ross as Juno’s stepmother Bren (Allison Janney) and Issa Rae as Leah (Olivia Thirlby), her outspoken best friend. As Reitman narrated the script, the hilarious women stole the show, even pausing in between scenes as the audience and they themselves couldn’t contain their laughter.
In a particular scene where Juno is explaining how her father named her after the Greek god Zeus’ wife, Page hesitated as she said she “was supposed to be super beautiful but really mean...kind of like Diana Ross.” Real-life daughter Ross interrupted, asking Reitman why it wasn’t left out of the script as the room erupted in laughter. Such candid moments occurred throughout the night, reminding the audience it was an unrehearsed live reading, but still beyond entertaining to watch.
As Page strung along with a guitar accompanied by Dawson, the show ended with herself and Shawkat singing “Anyone Else But You.” Nostalgia filled the room as Garner and Wiig motioned for the audience to sing along, reminding everyone how Cera and Page did so sweetly in the film 10 years ago. This time, however, it was led by a group of talented women supporting a good cause in order to encourage others to do the same.