‘Sacramento’ Review: Michael Angarano and Michael Cera Make for Amiably Amusing Road Trip Partners

Michael Angarano’s low-key “Sacramento” is likely to appeal best to those who connect personally with its exploration of arrested development. But he and his co-star, Michael Cera, have been working in Hollywood for most of their lives: the former began at age 8, the latter at 11. So even when they make a minor, unabashedly shaggy dramedy like this one, they hit a level of professionalism that rises above the script’s familiar beats.

Angarano — who also co-wrote and directs — stars as Rickey, an affable grifter who lost his father soon after breaking up with Tallie (Maya Erskine), and has been unmoored ever since. Glenn (Cera) used to be his best friend, but has disappeared into an anxious domesticity. Glenn’s wife Rosie (Kristen Stewart) is seven months pregnant, but she’s the calmly practical one. Somebody has to be, since Glenn is perpetually on edge — a state that only deepens once Rickey shows up in a proudly-unwieldy, vintage LeBaron convertible.

Glenn reluctantly agrees to a quick lunch, but before he knows it Rickey’s talked him into a road trip from L.A. to Sacramento. Much of the weekend consists of them beating each other up in pathetic fashion — they’re each holding a grudge, and a secret — but they do manage to get in some fun.

So do we, since they’re — well, not likable, exactly, but pretty good company nonetheless. Even better are Stewart and Erskine, as the women who have no more space in their lives for dithering man-children. Most of the participants are longtime friends (or more: Erskine and Angarano are married, and he once dated Stewart), and their natural camaraderie sweeps us into their intimate world. And though his slim script (co-written with Chris Smith) holds few surprises, Angarano’s direction is consistently confident. He paces this minor tale wisely, getting in and out of the characters’ small stories in a perfectly-timed 84 minutes.

It also helps considerably that he and cinematographer Ben Mullen have made such a good-looking movie. Likewise, music supervisor Sally O’Connor deftly pairs their crisp visuals with a score (and soundtrack heavy on SoCal indie band Sylvie) that captures both the existential dread and unexpected beauty of adulthood. Very little, “Sacramento” wants to remind us, is better than riding shotgun in a cool car on a sunny California day.

“Sacramento” is seeking distribution.

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