Is Michael Cera a comedic genius or just some awkward kid?

July 10, 2008 at 4:11 am 4 comments

The title to this one is pretty self-explanatory, no? Yesterday, I came across a new poster for Michael Cera’s new vehicle for awkward humor entitled “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.”

For those of you who don’t know about this project, here’s a brief synopsis I found on the website of the book the movie is based on:

It all starts when Nick asks Norah to be his girlfriend for five minutes. He only needs five minutes to avoid his ex-girlfriend, who’s just walked in to his band’s show. With a new guy. And then, with one kiss, Nick and Norah are off on an adventure set against the backdrop of New York City—and smack in the middle of all the joy, anxiety, confusion, and excitement of a first date.

Ok, I’m not going to lie; this project looks like something right up my alley, and I really have high hopes for it. But doesn’t Nick sound eerily similar to Evan from “Superbad” or Paulie from “Juno”?

I don’t think there’s any debate whether or not Cera is funny. He is. End of story. The more pressing question is whether or not he’s a one-trick pony. Can he do more than just play that one really awkward kid?

Let’s take a look at his most prominent performances to see if we can spot a pattern:

“Arrested Development”

Well, that certainly is awkward. From the moment I heard Cera meekly say “Oh, family. right. I thought you meant of of the things you eat,” in the pilot episode of this show, I thought I was looking at one of the best young comedic minds in Hollywood. Of course, he played the socially inept kid through all 53 episodes of “Arrested,” and it kept being funny. His career has gone just about as well as it could have since that moment, especially considering the fate of many child stars, but has he really diverted from his “Arrested” days?




A stretch from “Arrested”?

Eh, not really. He’s timid, stuttering and quite, which balances well with Jonah Hill’s Seth character, but I feel like a lot of his performance could be transplanted into the rumored “Arrested” movie and no one would know the difference. Sure, he finally stands up to Seth at the end, but he’s still awkward for much of the movie.

“Clark and Michael”

More of the same. Yeah, it’s funny, but this is when I started to wonder about his talent. Can he step outside of his comfort zone? Well, I think it’s safe to say he didn’t as Paulie Bleeker in “Juno.”

I like Michael Cera. I think he’s funny, but how much staying power can he have? When actors keep rehashing the same characters, people catch on eventually.

Look at Will Ferrel for example. Just a few short years ago, people were ready to crown him the Lord of Comedy. Then came “Anchorman,” “Blades of Glory,” “Semi-Pro,” and all those movies in which he plays an arrogant asshole. Now, people are asking if he’s run out of steam forever.

I don’t want this to happen to Michael Cera. I want to see him develop — I want him to reach out and tackle something he hasn’t tried, yet. I don’t think “Nick and Norah” will be a huge step away from Cera’s previous character, but I’m sure it will still work, and I’m sure people will still watch and laugh (me being one of them).

Maybe this is just an unnecessary rant. Maybe Cera can go on to monopolize ‘socially awkward’ role in Hollywood, but don’t you think it’ll eventually get old?


Entry filed under: Michael Cera, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. Tags: , , , .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. hi  |  July 10, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Don’t you think Steve Carell is doing the same thing, playing the same type of character in all his movies/The Office?

  • 2. andy  |  July 10, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Absolutely not. He’s taking chances with flicks like “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Dan in Real Life.” I don’t think his “Office” character really makes an appearance in his other work; In “40 Year Old Virgin” he’s more timid and shy, in “Anchorman” he plays a bumbling idiot. I think he’s got a very diverse body of work.

  • 3. being snarky  |  July 11, 2008 at 11:08 am

    You should buy one of those muscle suits…it would do you some good.

  • […] out there — that have been keeping up with my blog since the beginning, you’ll remember my rant about the Hollywood comedic genius of the moment, Michael Cera. In said rant, I acknowledged that, […]


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