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Juno spotlights offbeat protagonist

Only in a quirky independent film made of pure Sundance Film Festival gold, would a heroine ever be introduced downing a gallon of Sunny D and blaming a chair for her misfortunes.

Juno is just that movie and the title character not only ably pulled off the introduction but she carried the film despite backaches and swollen ankles.

Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) is the teenage poster child for those pesky abstinence lectures health teachers seem so fond of. At sixteen, Juno finds herself in the one problem she cannot solve by watching horror flicks and listening to underground punk music.

As a result of a chair (perhaps too comfy) and boredom, Juno and her not-quite-boyfriend Paulie (Michael Cera of Superbad) create life ? without considering the consequences beforehand.

Juno faces the dilemma many teens find themselves in: pregnant and in trouble. In a choice spurred on purely by a rather frightening women’s health clinic, she chooses to have the baby and give it up for adoption.

Juno wants to get to know the adoptive family ? her only prerequisites lie with their guitar collection and “funky” independent careers. She finds an immature slasher-film fan in the eventual father (Jason Bateman), who allows Juno around just a little too often for comfort. His wife (Jennifer Garner), unable to have a child of her own thus far, is so infatuated with the idea of being a mother that she elicits tears with her desperation.

This may all sound unremarkable, but the absolutely stunning performance of Page, who may well end up with an Oscar nomination after she smokes the competition at the Golden Globes, made this movie genre fresh and sought-after. She delivers the lines (cooked up by the unknown Diablo Cody) with such a degree of underlying emotion that her character is fully believable.

Moviemakers often tend to send their teenagers into the realm of “wise beyond their years”, usually forgetting that the character is still only 16 or 17. However, Juno remains a punky, sarcastic teenager, dutifully riding the waves of hormonal imbalance and first-loves while tactfully injecting wisdom into every experience.

Not only was Juno carried on the backs of the featured cast, but also those characters in the smaller roles. Every single actor or actress played a distinct character, from the wry cashier at the drugstore to the solitary pro-lifer picketing at the abortion clinic. They gave life to the film and surrounded Page in a completely plausible atmosphere.

Besides the cast, Juno was supported by one of the best soundtracks in recent memory. There is no well-known music blaring in the background. Each peculiar song is made of hilarious lyrics and alternative instrumentation. Juno would most definitely approve.

This film has been sparking interest ever since its winter release and it just will not go away. Fans and critics alike continue to return for more of the clever movie; with a heartwarming and humorous heroine like Juno, who can blame them?

Juno is playing in theaters everywhere, where it will no doubt remain for a long time. For show times, visit Fandango, and for more reviews, visit Rotten Tomatoes.

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    Tyler HaritzaldeJan 16, 2010 at 6:48 am

    Although we lost horrifically, it was still so much fun to play! Obviously the red hat and shorts weren’t enough to pull us to victory. … We should do this kinda stuff more often; it’s really fun and has class unity.