Review in a Hurry: A floppy young man (Michael Cera) develops an alter ego (an unblinking Michael Cera) to win over a girl, in this flick that's surprisingly funny for something released in the usual bad-movie desert of January.
The Bigger Picture: Another month, another coming-of-age comedy starring an actor from the Michael Cera School of Chinless Young Virgins.
In this flick, the actor happens, actually, to be Michael Cera, and he's at his George Michael-y, Ceratastic best here.
The virgin in this particular case in named Nick Twisp, and his virginity is the least of his problems. He has a lonely mom (Jean Smart) who dresses like she fell out of a 15-story flophouse, hitting various sales racks from Forever 21 on the way down. There's also mom's habitual liar of a cheapass boyfriend (master blowhard Zach Galifianakis) and Nick's estranged dad, George (Steve Buscemi) who can't find work.
A forced vacation leads Twisp to a trailer park in Ukiah, Calif., where he meets his match in cool beauty, Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday). Trouble is, Sheeni wants a bad boy; Twisp will have to adjust to win her over. It's when Twisp finally debuts said bad-boy alter ego—the staring, sociopathic François Dillinger—that the picture really takes off.
Sporting a rakishly thin mustache, cigarette dangling from between every pair of fingers but the obvious ones, Dillinger finally reveals a new side of Cera that has been years and years in coming. It's nice to see that the kid has range, and range he has got.
The dialogue is typical 21st-century teen comedy, meaning it's overwritten and too clever by half, à la Juno, but watching Cera morph between two opposite ends of the comedy spectrum makes up for that—at least, for comedy fans. And speaking of comedy fans, the supporting players including Fred Willard and Justin Long, make even the film's most self-impressed moments hard to hate.
The 180—a Second Opinion: Some of Dillinger's antics seem a little too mean for a nice kid like Twisp, which smacks of lazy writing and may turn off people who aren't fans of the Chinless Young Virgin comedy school.
There's so much else to see, too—have a look in our Totally New Releases gallery!