I personally identify with Michael Cera. As the skinny awkward guy in my group of friends in high school (and now), I saw a lot of myself in his portrayal of a graduating senior struggling with the transition from high school to college in Superbad. Especially because I was a graduating senior struggling with the transition from high school to college at the time. Like Cera in the film, I was leaving behind a close friend to go to a better school, unable to pick up on obvious signs that a cute girl might be interested, and prone to break out in doo-wop melodies in uncomfortable party situations.
I really enjoyed watching him in films because it made projecting myself into the role of the protagonist that much simpler. However it really hurt me when Michael Cera became completely and utterly typecast. He couldn’t escape the George-Michael- Scott-Pilgrim motif. Girls say they like him, but nobody wants Michael Cera more than they want a rugged tough Ryan Gosling. I wanted to see him grow. I wanted to see him turn into the slightly cooler but still not completely socially adept man-boy that I’ve evolved into 5 years later. Luckily for me, the transition has begun. Three roles in particular stick out to me as big moves for someone trying to escape a Hollywood label.
Cera’s coming out party for his new “not always the same character” self had to be his brief but memorable appearance in This Is The End. Appearing amongst a smattering of other celebrities that Seth Rogen was able to lure to a Dallas warehouse for a one night shoot/party (or maybe it was a party/shoot), Cera expresses his affections for cocaine, slapping Rihanna’s ass, and sharing a Capri Sun with the women fellating him before being impaled by a lamp post. This role was so far away from how Cera has been portrayed that Rogen was worried he would reject the opportunity to portray the Bizzaro version of himself. Cera accepted on the condition that he be allowed to choose his own wardrobe, namely a neon jacket that removed all doubt that he likes to ski in more ways than one.
Another outside-the-box role for Cera comes from from the movie Magic Magic. You wouldn’t think that playing the part of a rapey Chilean weirdo would be a step in the right direction, but as long as he isn’t forcing laughter at a bad Ellen Page joke, Cera can do no wrong in my eyes. In the film, a beautiful young American tourist is travelling to an isolated South American island to visit some family friends. Except replace “traveling to” with “imprisoned on” and “visit” with “be forced into marriage by”. In my favorite part of the trailer, Cera and his possible bride-to-be are asked how much they like each other on a scale of 1 to 10. “I only just met him” she replies. We’s likes her 10 my precious, We’s likes her 10.
The third film is less of a departure from a typical Cera role. He’s still awkward, but this time instead of crew cut and Goody-two-shoes’d, Cera has scraggly long hair and does drugs! In Crystal Fairy, Cera and a group of compadres decide to take mescaline on a Chilean beach together. The movie attempts to stereotype Cera by adding a weird pseudo-girlfriend who doesn’t shave her armpits, but as long as Cera takes hallucinogens, the movie will be a success in my eyes.
Just as I’m not sure why the latter two films I’m mentioning both happen to take place in Chile, I’m not sure how long this break from being typecast will last. In many ways Cera will never escape the role of the awkward lanky guy, because he has has been so central in defining what it means to be one. In the end, I’m just glad that he usually gets the girl at the end of the movie, so society will dictate that I should too.