Eisenberg: The thinking man's Michael Cera

Last week saw the release of the comedic action flick “American Ultra” starring Jesse Eisenberg. With this stoner comedy still in theaters and “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice” due next year, now is a critical time in Jesse Eisenberg’s acting career. Eisenberg in the past has had a career mainly acting in off-beat dramedies, but has grown into an Oscar nominated actor.  

Eisenberg made his start on the sitcom “Get Real” (1999) and the comedy film “Roger Dodger” (2002) where he got the reputation as “that guy who’s not Michael Cera.” The nature of his early roles were similar to that of Cera’s, both all too often playing the awkward, geeky teenager. Add the fact that they both look very much alike and comparisons became unavoidable.

Eisenberg spent the next few years acting in small indie comedies until he landed the lead role in “Adventureland” (2009). “Adventureland” follows the misadventures of college student James Brennan, who is forced to work at an amusement park after his parents can no longer pay for his tuition. Eisenberg played the role with his traditional awkward teen persona.

“Adventureland” was one of those comedies that were more quirky than laugh-outloud-funny. While not a huge success at the box office, it did garner good reviews from critics.

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Eisenburg stars in the 2009 film "Adventureland."

“Zombieland,” which was released later that same year, was a clever spoof of the ever-so-popular zombie survival movie. As opposed to most zombie movies, which try to present zombies as something new and frighting, the premise of the film centers on known rules for surviving the zombie apocalypse. Eisenberg plays Columbus, a neurotic nerd whose knowledge of Zombiemovies comes in handy. Stylish directing and a fun script help make “Zombieland” a critical and financial hit.

The critical success of “Adventureland” and “Zombieland” along with normally choosing smaller indie movies pushed Jesse Eisenberg into becoming the thinking man’s Michael Cera.

While they had similar roles, Eisenberg’s acting proved to be more diverse. He could show more arrogance in one role while he could be more neurotic and shy in another.
2010 saw the release of “The Social Network.” The movie chronicled the creation of Facebook and the legal battles that followed Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, played by Eisenberg. Both the film and Eisenberg received universal acclaim.

Eisenberg did a wonderful job bringing an angry arrogance to a man that firmly believes in his own hype, and wants the world to recognize it. Eisenberg was nominated for both an Oscar and a Golden Globe for best actor. This role completely set him free of comparisons between himself and Cera.

Off-screen Eisenberg has been known to be sarcastic and have little patience for the press.
After the success of “The Social Network,” Eisenberg mainly stuck to more low-key roles. He was a voice actor for a neurotic bird in the 2011 film “Rio” and its 2014 sequel starring Anne Hathaway. Considering that Hathaway plays Catwoman in “The Dark Knight Rises”, and Eisenberg is set to play Lex Luthor in the upcoming “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice”,  these two casting choices made “Rio” the animated movie about super villains falling in love.

Eisenberg’s latest movie, “American Ultra” follows the misadventures of a stoner who discovers that he is a CIA sleeper agent. The film is a fine action spoof, but a bit forgettable as the box office sees similar movies almost constantly. The dialogue is fun and the action is well executed, and Eisenberg does a great job playing a doofy loser as well as a threatening killing machine.

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Eisenberg stands the test of time with his often awkward characters.

What is set for the future for Jesse Eisenberg? Quite notably, he is set to play Lex Luthor, Superman’s arch nemesis in the widely-anticipated DC comics’ movie. There is only one trailer to judge, but it has been enough to stir up excitement among hardcore fans. He seems to be playing Luthor with a bit of an unbalanced manicness, that certainly suits a guy who sees a man who can lift a tank, and thinks “Yeah, I can take him.” We will have to see.