Juno – "Like the city in Alaska?" "No."

I’m probably a little behind the times since I just watched “Juno” for the first time last night. I enjoyed it very much, though watching “Smart People” a couple weeks ago introduced me to Ellen Page and so I wasn’t as enamored with her in Juno as most were. This isn’t to say she wasn’t great in her role – few people do cynical “I do what I want” angsty graduate-level vocabulary spouting teenager better than she does. But her character in “Smart People” was basically the same, if better dressed and in better context (her father is a widowed English professor rather than a remarried H-Vac salesman).

In both cases, her character seems just a bit overdone, though this is often to comic effect and leads to some great lines. Underneath the jaded faux-mature exterior always lies the fact that she is, despite how hard she tries to escape it, just a teenager coping with big problems. I think “Juno” did a better job of developing the characters overall than “Smart People”, which after watching “Juno” feels more and more like a vehicle for seeing just how far the Juno character could be taken. There’s been some criticism of Ellen Page playing essentially the same character and worries that she’ll be pigeon-holed, and I definitely agree. She does it well, but too well – you can believe that maybe that’s all she can convincingly portray (or all that we’ll let her, after two movies like that).

Ellen Page isn’t the only one potentially guilty of that. Michael Cera, who plays Bleeker in “Juno” and one of the guys in “Superbad”, pretty much seems to play one character also. He always comes off as endearing, though, which might be better than coming off as irritating, which too much of Ellen Page’s character can easily do. But disregarding the future of their careers, “Juno” was still a good, funny, quirky movie that leaves you smiling.

The one thing I do want to mention about Ellen Page, however, is how much she reminds me of an old roommate of mine. Not in a bad way at all, but it’s rather amusing. Not just the physique and appearance – slim, pale-skinned and freckled brunette – but also the manner of speaking and dress. The whole geeky hipster look, a face made for librarian glasses, the deadpan quips and witticisms, the perpetual hint of sarcasm, the ease with which you can imagine them listening to NPR or hunkering down with a battered copy of a dead Greek guy (my old roommate is a Ph.D. student in Classics – Latin, Greek, etc). The character in “Smart People” reminded me of her more, but the basic essence is the same in “Juno”. Though we didn’t hang out much, she was a good roommate, and seeing her reflected in Ellen Page through these two movies definitely made me think of her fondly. I’m sure someone has told her of the resemblance and I wonder what she thinks of that?

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