Director Miguel Arteta adapts C.D. Payne's 1993 novel to predictably comic, if not full-blown, outrageous effect. Michael Cera is well cast as Nick Twisp, the precocious lust-driven teenage son of separated low-life parents. He might not be Holden Caulfield, but in this day and age Nick represents a fresh breeze of youthful rebellion. Grade: B.
The genius here is the way the film pulls you into the character of Ronnie Barnhardt (Seth Rogen) — he just wants to be loved — and then pushes the audience away with his repellent behavior. That there are no likable characters in the story, save one, adds to a real sense of mall social miasma where Ronnie earns likeability points for at least having some personality, even if that persona is completely deranged. Grade A.
With so much drama and so many crossed narrative lines, the comparisons to 'Traffic' and 'Crash' will seem blatant and overplayed, but the aim here is more tightly focused than it might initially seem. There's a lush, overgrown forest, but the tallest tree in the center is Max Brogan (Harrison Ford). He comes to illustrate all sides of the immigration debate without merely flip-flopping between positions. Grade: C.