Starring: Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Adhir Kalyan, Ray Liotta, Frank Willard, Steve Buscemi, and Zach Galifianakis
Director: Miguel Arteta
Screenplay: Gustin Nash; adapted from the novel by C.D. Payne
Released: Alliance Films (2010)
I'm waiting for the day when Michael Cera stars in a movie I don't like. His batting average so far is great and convinces me that Jesse Eisenberg has a long way to go before he'll be anywhere as watchable an actor as Cera. There's only room for one nerdy-looking pseudo-intellectual leading man-boy. I think Youth in Revolt gives him his closest resemblence to his performance on "Arrested Devlopment." You could pretty much transplant his character from that show and plunk it down in this movie and you'd never know the difference.
Based on the C.D. Payne novel, the movie's about Nick Twisp. He's a helpless virgin living with his divorced mother (Jean Smart) and her long-haul trucker boyfriend, Jerry (Galifianakis). He's there against his will basically because she's his sole source of income: child support from Nick's dad (Buscemi). After a mishap involving a lemon of a car, some sailors, and Jerry's lack of morals, Nick is whisked away to a lakeside trailer park where he meets the girl of his dreams, Sheeni (Doubleday). She's a flirt of the highest order and wraps Nick around his finger in record time.
I might have expected her to become a rather shallow and manipulative character, but I was pleasantly surprised when she became less of a tease than a genuinely nice person that related to Nick. But she's already told Nick that she doesn't like him in that way, so he invents a bad boy persona in order to win her heart. Enter Francois Dillinger.
The movie really picks up as Cera plays double duty, playing both shy-guy Nick and defiant cad, Francois Dillinger. In a kind of split personality development, Nick starts lashing out at authority and tries his best to get kicked out of his mother's house so he can live with his father, closer to the trailer park and Sheeni. Things, of course, get carried away and Nick risks becoming a fugitive from the law after he accidentally sets half the town on fire.
Of course, her ultra-Christian parents disapprove of her godless heathen of a summer fling and send her to a French immersion school to keep her away. Cue the road trip. This part of the movie felt a bit tacked on in one sense, and put there purely to appeal to what's left of the American Pie fanbase.
Overall, I liked this movie thanks in large part to the performances of everyone involved. The plot kind of fell apart a bit towards the end, especially when Sheeni's unseen ex-boyfriend, Trent, finally shows up in the third act. Some more antagonism from him earlier on would have helped, but I think some editing for time clipped most of that character from the film. Too bad, because he was a real dick and a perfect foil for Nick.
It's worth checking out if you haven't seen it yet, especially if you're a Cera fan. And the supporting cast, carried mostly by Frank Willard and Ray Liotta, really helps lift the movie where it sags.