the take

Why Playing Scott Pilgrim Might Save Michael Cera’s Career

Photo: Getty Images

Like everyone else between the ages of 18 and 35, we are not immune to the charms of Michael Cera. His halting delivery, his bashful good humor, his short shorts, his self-deprecation; we find the whole package just as charming as you do. Nonetheless, we were starting to get a little worried about Cera recently. He plays the stunted boy-man so well; would he ever be able to play anything else? Or is he doomed to a career of diminishing returns, playing high schoolers well into his forties?

That’s why we’re so glad that Cera is in talks to play the hero of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s pop-manga series, Scott Pilgrim.

It’s not that Scott Pilgrim is an enormous departure from the characters Cera’s been playing. He’s not, like, a rogue cop tracking a killer through the mean streets of San Luis Obispo. But he is a character who will make Cera take his trademark acting style somewhere new, and for the first time suggests a credible adult version of Michael Cera.

Scott Pilgrim in action.Courtesy of Bryan Lee O’Malley and Oni Press
Scott Pilgrim, as written by O’Malley, is no wallflower. Instead he’s a sweet but headstrong alpha doofus, a guy given to pronouncements of his own awesomeness, long bass solos, clueless declarations of desire, and ridiculous emotional self-torture. Which is to say, he’s big in a way that Cera hasn’t been forced to play before.

For example, we’re excited to see Cera confidently juggling two girls, not haltingly trying to talk to one. We’re excited to see Cera rocking out — not strumming Moldy Peaches songs on acoustic guitar but shouting “We are Sex Bob-omb!” and launching into loud incompetent indie rock. And we’re very excited to see Cera in apocalyptic fight scenes with Ramona’s seven evil ex-boyfriends.

Our hope is that, just as the Scott Pilgrim comics transform Scott from emotionally stunted kid to … well … slightly less emotionally stunted grown-up, so will the Scott Pilgrim movie transform Michael Cera from the awkward gangly teen he’s been playing so productively for years to the slightly less awkward gangly adult we think he can be.

Cera ponders ‘Life’ with Universal [HR]

Earlier: Exclusive Comics Excerpt: ‘Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together’
Related: Awkward Phase [NYM]

Why Playing Scott Pilgrim Might Save Michael Cera’s Career