Now let me start this little crank yanker out by saying that I am no fanboy of Michael Cera. You hear that?! I AM NO FANBOY OF MICHAEL CERA. Since some people will accuse me of that anyway, let me illustrate further.
Michael Cera. I. Do. Not. Want. Your. Babies.
That being said, I still think he can be a fine actor when he wants to be (case in point: Juno, Superbad) but there are times when it feels like he’s just phoning in the typical awkward performance (Year One).
So, the plot.
Basically, a socially awkward virginal teen (here we go) named Nick Twisp (Cera) travels with his mom (Jean Smart) and her boyfriend, Jerry (the great Zach Galifianakis) to a “nice log cabin” in order to escape some sailors who are slightly perturbed, shall we say, about buying a non-functional Chevy Nova from Jerry. While in the wilderness, he meets Sheeni Saunders (adorable newcomer Portia Doubleday), an intellectual and interesting girl who actually takes notice in him and together, they have a bit of a summer fling. After that, the film takes a left turn into oddsville and doesn’t look back.
Now I’m not saying the movie is hard to follow or anything. Far from it. But it does make some strange choices at times that you just kind of have to ask yourself, “What were these people smoking?” and “Where can I get some of it?”
The movie is a lot of fun though quite honestly and sports some good performances. Michael Cera as the lead, in particular, delivers one of his strongest performances in a dual role as himself and his evil self (particularly, anything “Francois” says made me spit my pop up). Portia Doubleday is very convincing and cute as a button as the girl of his dreams. Mary Kay Place and M. Emmet Walsh (Teenyboppers: Who are they?! Are they in ‘Twilight’?!?) are really entertaining as her strict parents, particularly in one scene where they act completely different. You’ll know which one it is. There’s also some great small performances from Zach Galifianakis, Justin Long, Ray Liotta, Steve Buscemi, and Fred Willard (don’t worry, I’m not spoiling anything; they’re all listed in the opening credits). Most of those people have extended cameos, but they are fun nonetheless.
The story is pretty good and when it took a turn to the nastiness in the second half of the movie, it was definitely the strongest section. Michael Cera groupies, listen up. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill Cera vehicle. This is like a slightly less intense version of what Observe and Report was to Seth Rogen. It’s got plenty of dark humour, sick jokes, and good writing. Any movie that has Justin Long doing mushrooms with Fred Willard and a scene in which someone promises to tickle a girl’s belly button “from the inside” is A-OK with me.
And yes, I know the flick was based on a book. So, shut up.
Since a rating is attributed to everything these days, I give it:
PS: Anyone who says Jesse Eisenberg is copying Michael Cera’s vocal patterns in his movies needs to be shot. Jesse has been doing that way before Cera was even in “Arrested Development”. That’s not a knock against Cera, just something I had to get off my chest.