Bringing the Manic Pixie Male Best Friend to Life in Sacramento

Bringing the Manic Pixie Male Best Friend to Life in Sacramento

Friendship, adulthood, anxiety, parenthood, relationships, death…Michael Angarano covers it all and more in Sacramento. Co-written by, starring, and directed by Angarano, this new film which premiered at the 2024 Tribeca Film Festival found ways to tell a familiar story through a new light. Along with Michael Cera, Kristen Stewart, and Maya Erskine, Sacramento treats its audience to a new spin on the manic pixie dream girl trope, with the manic pixie male best friend.

Life seems to be throwing Glenn (Michael Cera) some curveballs. He and his wife Rosie (Kristen Stewart) are about to welcome their first child into the world. Though Glenn seems excited for the new arrival, he obviously has some issues. He’s a worrywart, baby proofing their house beyond belief. He’s also awaiting the news that he might be laid off from his job. Rosie has things in control though. She earns enough to float them while Glenn turns into a stay at home father while he looks for new work. 

Just as the tension seems to be growing to its highest level though, Glenn’s “best” friend, Rickey (Angarano) pops up out of nowhere. Glenn is a free flowing, child-like figure that just goes with the flow. Glenn plans on taking Rickey on an impromptu road trip to Sacramento to scatter his father’s ashes. Rosie pushes Rickey to go on the weekend trip and what follows is quite the journey for all those involved. 

At its base level, Sacramento is nothing new. Whether the specifics are obvious or not, the viewer is just waiting for the true motives of all the characters to come to light. The film actually opens with Rickey’s character before jumping a year, still sticking with Rickey. By the time the film gets into Glenn and Rosie’s story, it is hard to tell who we are supposed to be following as the main protagonist. But, with time, the pieces start to fall back into place.

The power of Sacramento lies in its performances. Both Michael’s spend the majority of the film flip flopping between what you’ve come to expect from them and the more nuanced presentation of those characters. Cera tops things off by doing what he has been a master at in the past few years by rolling out some of his most impressive dramatic chops in a moment of pure vulnerability. Kristen Stewart then punctuates the entire affair by playing a very low key, calm character on the outside with her true feelings just seeping up to the surface. It’s a performance that many may just call bland because she needs to play this all at one level. But, just peek between the curtains and you’ll see how masterful her choices are.

Sacramento is the perfect example of a story that feels just too wild to be real life, but can hit very close to home for many. Being as carefree and naive as Rickey is a dangerous thing in real life. But, as that manic pixie best friend on the screen, he feels so natural and real. Having a friend like Rickey in real life would be a traumatic experience. Even as the film starts, Glenn talks about trying to remove Rickey from his life. In a real world scenario, this would be the right call. In Sacramento, the awkward interactions are exactly what everyone needs.

In the hands of another film maker, Sacramento would probably be a tremendous failure…or maybe miss the points where it really matters. Angarano care for the proper balance in the delivery of everything from character to visuals is what helps make this a successful trip.

Final Grade: B+

If you like the article, share your thoughts below.

Check Out More of Matthew’s articles.

Comment (0)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here