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Michael Cera is exploring his dark (and mustached!) side in Youth in Revolt, this week's teen comedy with a twist. In honor of the film—based on a subversive 1993 novel by C. D. Payne with quite a following—The Reelist counts down our favorite moments with the baby-faced Canadian.
Though he was born in the late '80s, Michael Cera already has a lengthy and impressive resume, from Canadian kids' TV to beery summer blockbusters like Superbad. While some of us got to know and love him as the perpetually embarrassed and unfortunately named George-Michael Bluth on the short-lived series Arrested Development (which, for the moment, Hulu has luckily given immortality), Cera and his particular brand of shy and dry humor have made their mark on the movie comedy scene as part of the Judd Apatow crew.
However, his new movie, Youth in Revolt, which opens Friday, January 8, shows a different side of Cera, literally. In YiR, Cera's nerdy protagonist Nick Twisp spins out into a cigarette-smoking, filthy-mouthed alter ego named Francois Dillinger, a dangerous young man who will go to great, and often illegal, lengths to earn the love of his neighbor at the trailer park, the beautiful Sheeni Saunders (newcomer Portia Doubleday). We'll see Cera further prove his prowess later this year in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, as the title character who must fight his ladylove's seven ex-boyfriends in order to win her heart.
So, in honor of Michael Cera and his budding bad-assness, here are five of our favorite Michael moments. (Yes, Superbad was great, but Kitty Cat Man cannot be surpassed. Sorry.)
Arrested Development: Afternoon Delight
dir. Jason Bateman (2004)
We might never find out if George-Michael Bluth (Cera) is cousins with his love object Maeby Fünke (Alia Shakwat) if those Arrested Development people don't make the movie, but at least they got a smooch in before the series was cruelly cancelled. This series also has the honor of introducing us to the brilliant Will Arnett, in addition to repurposing Jason Bateman, Jeffrey Tambor, and David Cross, for which we will be eternally grateful.
Tim and Eric Awesome Show. Great Job!: Kitty Cat Man
dir. Tim Heidecker, Jonathan Krisel, Eric Wareheim (2007)
There's not really a lot you can say about this without watching it. Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! is a bizarre Adult Swim comedy show that banks on awkward, surreal humor with a cable access twist. In this particular sketch, Michael Cera plays Jaime Stevens, a man who was raised by his twin older brothers in matching sweaters. One night over dinner, he reveals to them his secret—he can turn into a cute kitty cat!
dir. Jason Reitman (2007)
Although Michael Cera played a kid desperate to lose his V card in 2007's summer blockbuster Superbad, it was his role as accidental daddy Paulie Bleeker in Jason Reitman's Juno later that year that won hearts (and writer Diablo Cody an Oscar) and introduced him to our moms. It could have been the atrocious running shorts, or the orange Tic-Tac obsession, but chances are it was the sweet sing-a-long with baby mama Juno (Ellen Page) that did it.
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
dir. Peter Sollett (2008)
Michael Cera's another sensitive indie boy, in a band called The Jerk Offs, no less, but at least he and his hoodie make it to NYC, where a beautiful stranger named Norah asks him to pretend to be her boyfriend for five minutes to make an ex jealous. The rest of the night is spent cruising around the East Village, Lower East Side, and Brooklyn on the hunt for Norah's drunk best friend, hunting down a cool band's secret show, and having awkward encounters with their exes. Tons of hip cameos, real NYC locations, and a sweet love scene make this an indie romance worth its Smith CDs.
dir. Nicholas Jasenovec (2009)
Were Michael Cera and writer/star/puppeteer/musician/comedian Charlyne Yi ever really involved before or during the making of Paper Heart? Who knows, but this pseudo-doc that shows Yi's cross-country interviews with strangers about the nature of love contrasted with her budding romance with a dude named Michael (Cera) is too unique and charming to care. You get the feeling watching Paper Heart that this is a slightly realer shade of Cera, despite the set-up.