Junebug (2005)
(Release Date: August 5, 2005)
(Premiere Date: January 2005 [
Sundance Film Festival])

Sometimes ART comes from the least likely places!

J.C. Mašek III
The World's Greatest Critic!

It's interesting, methinks, to note that I have yet to see a movie in which Embeth Davidtz does a nude scene that I didn't like. Most of you fans of Embeth Davidtz out there will say "WELL DUH!", but I mean it. Sure there's the nudity factor, but as movies they all tend not to suck and to have something to like for everyone. In fact, I predict that one day Archeologists from some Future Society will be researching the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries and will assume that Embeth's Breasts were a mark of quality of some kind in the world of Cinema. I can picture them coming across a film like Big Fish or The Fog of War and saying "Man, that was GREAT! I wonder why it didn't warrant the coveted Embreast!".

I think about these things. I have that kind of mind.

Junebug is no exception to this rule. Junebug is the touching story of Madeleine (Davitz), a fun-loving exhibitor of paintings done by the untrained, autistic or mentally retarded. She recently wed George (Alessandro Nivola), an equally fun-loving Southern Dude who simply can't get enough of his smart and beautiful wife. But when an artist who is interested in signing with Madeleine's firm is located an Opie Taylor stone's throw from where George grew up the couple make this a trip that combines business with the introduction of George's new wife to his not-so-aristocratic family.

Let's see, there's Maw (Celia Weston's Peg), Paw (Scott Wilson's Eugene), George's lil' brother (Benjamin McKenzie's Johnny) and, of course, his pregnant wife whom he married straight out of high school (Amy Adams' Ashley).

It's Ashley that gets our focus here. Adams portrays her as an incredibly sunny and warm bright spot in an otherwise emotionally sterile household. Even by comparison to George and Madeleine she's a Smurf in a town filled with Grinches. She is defined by her naivetÚ and her unshakable optimism, even as she is clearly not being fulfilled. Johnny is so emotionally distant that he makes Alan Greenspan and Bob Newhart look like Barney the Dinosaur and Teddy Ruxpin by comparison. Johnny holds a thinly veiled resentment for the girl he left school for and he's most certainly not any more ready to be a father than he is ready to be an Astronaut. Ashley is positive that will change the very second he lays eyes on "Junebug" (the baby's nickname, be it male or female).

Madeleine is enchanted by Ashley's comical sweetness and takes to the young lady right away, offering to help in any way she can (even if it means dealing with forlorn and grabby Johnny). That is, as long as her business reason for being in B*F*E doesn't get in the way. It's an especially poignant relationship that Ashley shares with Madeleine, and in fact, the entire family, because when the thin veneer of outward joy cracks (even if only for a second), there really is nothing left to brighten this clan's shadows, and they're left with only what they bring with them.

Junebug is a very funny comedy with just enough drama to keep its varied subject matter from feeling watered down. It can also be a bit shocking, especially in some of the scenes depicted in the paintings Madeleine collects and shows. There is also quite a bit of metaphor riding just under the main text of the script, which can both help and hinder depending on how it's handled. (Regardless, such a thing would almost certainly make repeated viewings a treat.) Sometimes the mix of all these differing parts isn't perfect, but it still makes for a good and smart comedy for the thinking person. Just where we're going in the final act is uncertain, and possibly intentionally so. It's a very uncertain movie filled with very uncertain characters in very uncertain situations. Ashley is the bright spot, the illusion that everyone clings to (so they don't have to make their own). To be sure, this would be a challenging part for any actress! Amy Adams pulls it off!

All this makes for a good movie! And yes, Embeth Davitz is briefly, yet beautifully, naked as a nympho on prom night. This, as I've indicated, is always a sign that your movie's going to be good.

And this just all makes me feel snug as a bug in a rug... somewhere between May and July. Ah, yes, the inner glow! Four Stars out of Five for Junebug. Special mention must be given to Director Phil Morrison and Writer Angus MacLachlan for breaking away from the pack and giving us a smart and different movie with textual metaphors that make you go Hmmmmmmmmmmm! And also for making sure that in a movie with this many sexual situations (and there are more than a few) they made sure that at least once we get our Embreast. Well, that's about it for me. I'm heading out to try to read a book while horseback riding at the same time. The way Ashley mentioned it with such a happy glow makes this a MUST for me to try. The only thing is, I'm afraid I might look up from the page and have no Earthly idea where the hell I am. But then again, it wouldn't be the first time. See you in the next reel!

Want more art from the completely untrained?
Then click here for more reviews...
Unless a degree in English Lit counts as "Training"!

Junebug (2005) reviewed by J.C. Mašek III who is solely responsible for his own opinions
and for the fact that he owns a VHS copy of Gingerbread Man
but only watches that one part over and over again!
If you've seen it, you know!
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