Thursday, March 20, 2008

Michael Cera's Precious Little Life

Rarely do I blog about anything that is breaking or could properly be called 'news'; this is an exception. Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) appears to finally be moving forward with his adaptation of Brian Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim comic book series, and we know this because he's cast his Scott - the always so awkward and adorable Michael Cera (Arrested Development, Superbad... if i honestly have to describe who he is, then you probably don't like the same things i do and are wasting your time reading this).

The film will apparently be called Scott Pilgrim's Little Life, which is a slight modification of the title of the first book in the series. (Why excise 'Precious', though? Scott's preciousness, like Michael Cera's, is probably the most likable thing about him.) All we really know to this point is that the title role has been cast and I have to say that, while I love (George) Michael (Bluth) Cera, the casting choice is too obvious. Cera is perfect - beloved by the same sorts of indie hipster doofuses that Scott represents and, to top it off, from the same hometown - and I suppose that they can't really go wrong with a match that looks this right.

But casting the perfect match can be both right and boring. I'm hard pressed to figure out how, having read the books and followed Michael Cera in everything he's done for the last 5 years or so, this film could possibly surprise me. Or, for that matter, why Michael Cera would want to a slightly dimmer, slightly super-powered version of the same character he's been doing for years.


Jason Powell said...

I don't think Michael Cera's schtick translates well to the big screen at all. He is one of the best things about "Arrested Development," which is saying something since there are so many great things in that show. But in "Juno" I found his comic persona fairly bland, and as for Superbad I don't see the appear there at all.

Jason Powell said...

"appeal", not "appear." Sorry 'bout that.

James said...

I am a hipster doofus in love with Michael Cera, but doesn't he strike you as more of a Young Neil? Scott's blunderingly inept, whereas Cera is awkward in a twitchy, adorable fashion. Personally I'd imagined someone with more vanilla good looks, like Emile Hirsch. Plus, I just can't see Cera dragon-punching a guy. Hope I'm wrong!

neilshyminsky said...

Jason: I think you found him bland in Juno because he wasn't supposed to be particularly likable - we were supposed to fear that he was the younger version of Jason Bateman's character. I liked him in Superbad, on the other hand, because he was able to disrupt the otherwise overwhelming and often heartless vulgarity of its exercise by inserting a bit of George Michael into it. I mean - the drunk girl he likes is coming on to him and all he can reply with is "Samesies"? There's some appeal in that, isn't there? :)

james: Yeah, Young Neil would probably seem like an even more appropriate fit, though I think I was thinking of Michael Cera himself (who carries all this hipster/slacker cultural capital) more than his nervous, twitchy performances. That said, I'm not sure that Scott and Neil are really all that different - and I don't really understand what Young Neil adds to those stories.

Jason Powell said...

He had some great lines in Superbad, definitely.

Drunk girl: "I'm so wet..."
Cera: "Yeah, they told us that could happen, in health class..."

I don't deny that he was the best thing about the movie; I just didn't think it was enough to mitigate the overall monotony of the film. I'm probably being a little too hard on Mr. Cera -- I guess based on his work in "Arrested," I had assumed that he could carry "Superbad" no matter how awful the other cast-members were. But they were just SO awful, I think Cera's unique voice got drowned out, if not steamrolled over entirely, for most of the movie.

Interesting point about Juno -- I didn't really get the impression that he was ever supposed to be unlikable, though ... I kind of got the opposite impression, actually. What did I miss?

neilshyminsky said...

Jason: I don't have a particularly clear memory of the film anymore, but like i said above, i think we were supposed to put two-and-two together and understand that Michael Cera's character in Juno was a younger version of Jason Bateman's character - their love of indie music, their dry wit, their attraction to Juno and Juno's attraction to them. (And the parallels continue beyond the movie, of course, since the film is also haunted by their relationship in Arrested Development.) I think that his willingness to abandon Juno and go after that other girl because Juno gave him an out is also supposed to seem like eerie foreshadowing - as if he's no better than Bateman's character, who Juno provides (in his own mind, anyway) with a different kind of out from a relationship that's leaving him indifferent.

So to sum - it's subtle, and it's implied, but i think we're supposed to be very uncertain of what kind of guy he is until (or will be) he regains some dignity in the final 10 minutes.

Jason Powell said...

Good interpretation. As noted, I missed that entirely. I don't know if that makes me a bad viewer or not, 'cause on the flip-side I was not at all surprised by his reconciliation with Juno at the very end.