Well, Michael Cera is making quite a career of being the quirky, sensitive nerd. Maybe too much of a career, in fact. You know how we’re all getting sick of seeing Will Ferrell over-saturating the comedy genre? Oh, you’re sick of him, you just don’t know it yet. Well, that’s the way Michael Cera is starting to get. Oh, I like him just fine, but it’s time to try to branch out a little, man. It’s gonna get old real fast.
Ok, that said, this movie is based on a book. Instant challenge. It’s the story of Nick Twisp, a bright but awkward virgin that falls for the ever so lovely Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday) and hopes, of course, that she will be the one to change that virgin status. He creates an alternate personality to try to make Sheeni want him. Nick’s divorce’ mother, Estelle (Jean Smart) has a penchant for dating the wrong men, and his father, George (Steve Buscemi) is dating a hot 25 year old. Frankly, I forget how or why. Suffice to say, there’s lots of dysfunction.
And that dysfunction isn’t just in the fictional story. It’s in the script, the plotting, and the acting. This is a movie that I wanted to like. The trailers looked funny, I like that Cera kid, and it had that quirky tone. And indeed, there are a few funny moments. Alas, a few funny moments does not a movie make.
I think all the funny moments might actually be in the trailer for this. My biggest problem is that this girl, Sheeni, who Nick Twisp falls for, is certainly lovely, and at first is all mysterious and aloof. Sure you want to know more, and there is a quality I can see someone falling for, but then instead of discovering she is sweet and funny and delightful, she never gets past being kind of a snob, playing hard to get, then even makes Nick commit criminal acts. She never really becomes anyone that for one second would be loved by any self-respecting man. I didn’t buy their love for each other at all.
Then there’s Sheeni’s drug using brother, Paul (Justin Long). Hey, I don’t have any problem with Justin Long, either. It’s just that he appears out of nowhere and does nothing but drug everyone, including his parents at Thanksgiving dinner. Then he steals Nick dads’ girlfriend, all without any reasoning at all. None of it really has any point. Well, I suppose it was mildly amusing to see M. Emmet Walsh smearing mashed potatoes on his face in a mushroom-fueled trip…well, no, not really.
This movie had no sincerity. Even Michael Cera doesn’t sell this one. The idea of Nick creating this bad boy persona, Francios Dillinger, doesn’t really make sense. It’s not like he has no control over him. He made Francois up on purpose. He can choose to get rid of him anytime. It’s silly.
This is pretty much just a rainy Sunday afternoon watch on cable, provided you are too lazy to reach for anything other than the TV remote instead of a book over there across the room on a shelf. But, you should probably walk to the shelf for the book, at least for the exercise.
*Fun Fact!: Michael Cera and I share the same birthday! Well, maybe it’s not so much fun as it is just a fact.
—Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, telling you to just watch Superbad again. Or read a book.