Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Michael Cera: A Boy With Low Self-Esteem

You would probably agree that Michael Cera's new movie, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, will be approximately the most hipstery movie ever made. This thing just racks the points up:
  • it stars Michael Cera
  • it's about rock bands and high school misfits (but the smart, witty ones who no one actually dislikes all that much, not the ugly ones)
  • the IMDB page lists characters named "hipster" and "drunk hipster" (but I am sure those terms are intended ironically)
  • it takes place in Williamsburg
  • people express their love via songs that other people wrote
  • I dunno but I would bet that there is probably some Of Montreal on the soundtrack (though I'm probably really far behind the times, those guys haven't been cool even before those Outback commercials)
  • it has the word "playlist" in the title, which has only actually been a word in widespread use for like three years
This movie makes me worry for everyone's favorite skinny awkward under-25 Canadian comic actor, because I feel like I've already seen where this is going.

Depending on who you ask, Garden State was a pretty good movie or the most moving and cathartic emotional experience since the Passion, but either way it's hard, in retrospect, to not look at it as pretty masturbatory. Zach Braff knew what he was doing. He turned that movie into a Big Hipster Thing--perhaps the biggest, most widespread Hipster Thing we had seen to date--by bringing a small but devoted fanbase of a tragically underappreciated TV show (no, another one) along for the ride by chatting them up in a witty and emotive blog, in which he stopped posting the moment the DVD dropped. Now he makes this crap because the twentysomething-in-existential-crisis bit wears thin when you're on the other side of 30. And just as Garden State doesn't hold up all that well to a second viewing, once he's done playing his best character after this season and we all start realizing that, really, Zach Braff is actually kind of an unlikable tool, he isn't going to have much of a career.

Cera has more comic acting talent than most anyone, let alone Braff, which is why it's frustrating to read that he's being kind of a tool, too. On the one hand, it's pretty easy to see why he doesn't want to do the movie--he probably guessed that another 90 minutes of George Michael Bluth would mean he'll be to be typecast into eternity. On the other, that "you guys should be happy with the DVDs" quip made me want to kick his scrawny ass. Part of my frustration (okay, most of it) is disappointment that there's yet one more obstacle to the movie, but much of it comes from the fact that he's seriously selling himself short if he's worried, as it seems, that he'll be prematurely branded. He's too good to follow the Braff route, so he damn well shouldn't be putting himself on it. There's no need for Cera to be Zach Braff when he can just as easily be Jim Carrey--spending a while doing the crap that the crowds eat up that put him on the map before cranking out some Oscar-worthy stuff.

So come on, Mikey, stop being a prick and do the goddamn movie. You're young enough that you can afford a few months of self-loathing. You'll make a shit-ton of money, it'll be easy since you already did the role for three years, and you'll make the people who made you famous happy. Best of all, you can go right back to making your indie bullshit after you're done and people will still think you're a Serious Actor, because the same people who loved Arrested Development are the ones who are going to pay to see Nick and Norah. I'll probably be there opening weekend.


Adam said...

Er... I've gotta ask - is it really realistic to say that an Arrested Development movie would make a shit-ton of money? Didn't the show get cancelled because nobody watched it?

Jon said...

Well, it has a built in audience already there that will watch this on opening night en masse, and possibly again. They probably wouldn't significantly expand the audience from there, but between theatrical release and DVDs (the show actually killed in terms of DVD sales for all three seasons) they'd make a nice profit.