How long can Michael Cera continue playing the same character? Throughout his film (and television) career, the 21-year-old actor has played roughly the same mild-mannered, second-guessing, dweeby adolescent. And now, as his latest coming-of-age comedy hits theaters, critics are wondering if Cera will finally break out of his milquetoast mold.
In Youth in Revolt, Cera plays Nick Twisp, a painfully shy, oversexed 16-year-old who can't get the girl. Faced with continued rejection, Nick invents a truculent, bad-boy alter ego named Francois who's also played by Cera. Is Francois the vehicle in which Cera can finally prove his range? After previewing the film, two critics, Barry Hertz and James Berardinelli, address Cera's one-trick pony skill set. Is it a good or a bad thing? That's where they differ:
- Cera Only Has One Card to Play, But No One Does it Better, writes Barry Hertz at The National Post: "What those who complain about Cera forget, though, is that the ever-hoodied actor does nebbish like no one's business. I dare readers to find a comic actor of his generation who can deliver a line like 'I never wash my pants. I like to keep the night on them' with as much subtle conviction as Cera - and no, the forever dull Jesse Eisenberg doesn't count. Still, I fear Cera-haters will again convince moviegoers that the actor's latest effort, Youth in Revolt, is another waste of film, when in fact it features one of his most wry, and un-Cera-like, roles to date."
- Let's Put Cera to Bed, writes James Berardinelli at Reel Reviews: "It has been argued that playing both Nick and Francois offered Michael Cera the opportunity to show his range. Nick is Cera in his usual low-key, likeable loser mode - a variation on the theme he employed for Superbad, Juno, and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. Francois is Cera trying to put a cocky spin on this image and not really succeeding. Francois is nothing more than a pale imitation of a juvenile delinquent. Maybe Cera has become so typecast as a nice nerd that this is as far as a director will let him go."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.