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I'm a fan of Christopher Mintz-Plasse. The 20-year-old with the last name that sounds like a fancy European hotel and a resume of mostly R-rated films has nonetheless invented a new teen archetype: the no-fear uber-nerd. "Nerds" haven't been this popular since they sought retribution on the big screen 26 years ago (in Revenge of the Nerds, of course).
But Mintz-Plasse (who looks more like Dr. McCoy than Dr. McDreamy) takes the image to a new level. Whereas fellow Superbad star Michael Cera typically plays the meek, invisible-to-girls, mumble-mouthed wallflower, Mintz-Plasse plays characters empowered by their own nerdy impulses. As Superbad's Fogell, he exudes a geeky confidence and gets the girl. As Role Models' Augie, he swordfights his way to the top of a tournament (and gets the girl), and as Kick-Ass' Red Mist, he's a self-invented bad-ass superhero. This is definitely not Disney's idea of a teen icon. Even in How to Train Your Dragon, Mintz-Plasse voices a Viking wannabe whose book-knowledge is instrumental in defeating a dragon.
Although Mintz-Plasse's films have been predominantly rated R, most teenagers know by now that "McLovin" is not a new menu item at Mickey D's. And what's cooler than being a young star who specializes in R-rated films? Take that, teen-fantasy resident Zac Efron!
I'm not encouraging the under-17 crowd to see R-rated films. But Mintz-Plasse's roles could have a positive effect across the board on depictions of young men who aren't graced with perfect physical features, athletic prowess or a trust fund. Someone has to speak for that East High School student who doesn't sing, dance, or play basketball -- and it's time for that kid to be a hero, too.
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