I got tired of everyone giving me a hard time about the movies I haven’t ever seen. “You haven’t watched The Godfather? What’s wrong with you?” “How is it possible that you missed Babette’s Feast?” Well, I have decided to fix this problem once and for all. I’m going to work my way through my stack of “never seen it” movies, and as an added bonus, I’m gonna pair each movie with a restaurant that helps set the mood for the film.
Today’s combo pack is Juno with Ellen Page and Michael Cera and high-end burger joint Delux.
I have been a big fan of Michael Cera since his days as George Michael Bluth on Arrested Development. In Juno, he plays true to type as a sort of shmendrik boyfriend to Ellen Page’s teen mother. As the story goes, the two teens are best friends who eventually have sex, resulting in Juno becoming pregnant. The story of what to do with the unborn child, the awkward dynamic between the adoptive couple (played masterfully by Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner), and the resolution of the relationship between the teen couple, makes for a fun and meaningful film.
The story that unfolds is a real, honest, frank discussion of what life is. Because the movie presents a clear choice between having an abortion and putting up the child for adoption, it could be both hailed and jeered from people on both sides of the abortion debate. Some in the pro-life camp hailed the message that focused on Juno’s choice to keep her baby, while criticizing the movie’s trivialization of the availability of an abortion. Those in the pro-choice camp could easily criticize the dreary portrayal of the prospect of an abortion and could criticize the movie’s glorification of the choice to carry the baby.
Ideologically I don’t really fall neatly into either camp, and I appreciate the difficulty of dealing with the prospect of an unexpected pregnancy. Juno navigates these tough waters with a clever compassion. In the end, the celebration of life ends with the baby in the arms of a loving, albeit older, single mother and the teens push the reset button on their relationship.
The moral of the story: Life is full of complicated decisions with tough consequences; we aren’t always prepared to deal with those choices, and all we can do is to try our best to make the right decision.
I am glad that I finally got around to seeing this movie. It is a fun, funny, life-affirming story with a clever script and is skillfully acted.
So, why did I pair Juno with Delux? One of the opening scenes famously features Juno talking to a friend on a hamburger phone. Naturally, when thinking of burger places in Phoenix, the first spot on my list is Delux Burger at 32nd Street and Camelback.
Any review of Delux requires an obligatory mention of the Los Angeles landmark restaurant Father’s Office, whose concept was all but completely plagiarized by Delux. I always say, though, it doesn’t matter who came up with the idea, it matters who executes it. And, I like how Delux executes the concept. High-end burgers, delicious craft beer selection and great service in a cozy (and hip) location.
Of course, I have to be the weirdo — I am also a vegetarian, so I can’t have a burger anyway. Instead, I grabbed the amazing grilled cheese, which they grill panini-style, cut into quadrants. The baguette, as usual, was perfectly toasty, firm, yet chewy. There is a great variety of craft beers — everything from Alaskan Amber to Stone IPA. The service is always good, although this time our server was particularly flirty. He actually sat down with my dining companions and I to chit chat. It was charming and fun and certainly added to the fun (and enjoyment) of the meal.
Another mandatory purchase at Delux is the fries — available in sweet potato, regular, or half and half. The fries are served in a mini shopping cart (familiar to anyone who has been to Father’s Office). They are perfectly seasoned and served with a delicious aioli dipping sauce.
Delux is a perfect place to have a sandwich and day drink on a warm afternoon, and I am looking forward to the temperature cooling off so I can waste a few Sundays there. And, of course, Delux is open till 2 a.m., so it is a great option for late nights as well.
Hmm… I’m so stuffed after a delicious meal at Delux that I am feeling pregnant. And, that’s one doodle that can’t be un-did, homeskillet.