Nick Twisp (Michael Cera) is a 16-year-old in terminal virgin mode. His home life with his mother and piggish boyfriend (The Hangover‘s Zach Galifianakis) is a nightmare, but when said boyfriend runs afoul of a trio of sailors, an enforced vacation is mandated. At the trailer park, Nick meets Sheeni (Portia Doubleday), a girl who not only speaks to him but shares his tastes. But Nick has a rival for Sheeni’s affection, and in order to win her heart, he must be bad. Conjuring suave alter ego François as his guide, he embarks on an escalating campaign of mayhem designed to unite him with his beloved.
Michael Cera turns in a patented Michael Cera performance: the sensitive, intelligent, shy teen. What could feel too familiar, though, is kept fresh by his hilarious incarnation of François, and the humour depends to no small degree on bouncing off the Cera’s established screen persona. And work the humour does. There are great sight gags here, some terrific slapstick, and no end of sharp verbal wordplay. The script is an intelligent delight, and the characterizations are quirky and sharply drawn. I have essentially two reservations: Sheeni is a pretty unsympathetic character, unworthy of Nick’s devotion, and the more we see of her, the more his love becomes inexplicable; and there are a number of appealing characters who simply drop through cracks in the plot, never to be seen again. Still, all told, this is one sharp, funny comedy.
This is very bright, cheerful transfer. The colours pop out, straddling the line between naturalism and the surreal (and thus the film shifts smoothly between live action and animated sequences). The contrasts, blacks and flesh tones are all excellent, and there is no grain. The aspect ratio is the original 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. A pleasure to watch.
The audio isn’t as showy as the picture. The film is primarily about its dialogue, and dialogue that is often quite soft-spoken at that. Said dialogue is perfectly clear, without a trace of distortion. There aren’t a lot of sound effects, are at least not many big ones, but the surround is still well (and delicately) handled. The score, meanwhile, sounds terrific.
Commentary Track: Cera and director Miguel Arteta take us through the making of the film, and their discussion is cheery and informative. Cera comes across sounding very like one of his characters.
Deleted Scenes: (10:56) Nine of them, some of them pretty damn funny (the extended magic mushroom sequence in particular).
Deleted and Extended Animations Sequences: (7:14) Five of these.
Audition Footage: (7:48) Represented here are Portia Doubleday, Zach Galifianakis, Erik Knudsen (Nick’s even more pathetic friend Lefty), Jonathan B. Wright (Trent, Nick’s rival) and Adhir Kalyan (Vijay, Nick’s schoolfriend).
Proof that the intelligent comedy is not extinct. Excellent fun.