Youth in Revolt (2009) / Comedy-Romance
MPAA Rated: R for sexual content, language and drug use
Running Time: 90 min.
Cast: Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Jean Smart, Steve Buscemi, Zach Galifianakis, Ray Liotta, Fred Willard, Adhir Kalyan, Justin Long, M. Emmet Walsh, Mary Kay Place, Rooney Mara, Jade Fusco, Jonathan Bradford Wright
Director: Miguel Arteta
Screenplay: Gustin Nash (based on the novel. "Youth in Revolt: The Adventures of Nick Twisp", by C.D. Payne)
Review published June 8, 2010
Michael Cera (Year One, Superbad) plays, not one, but two roles in Youth in Revolt, the Miguel Arteta (The Good Girl, Chuck & Buck) film based on the adaptation by Gustin Nash (Charlie Bartlett) of the first book of C.D. Payne's series of Nick Twisp novels. One role you'd expect: nerdy, awkward, virgin teenager Nick Twisp, who meets what he feels is the love of his life, a smart, pretty Francophile named Sheeni Saunders (Doubleday, 18), while on a mini vacation at a trailer park in Ukiah, California.
The other is the invisible (but not to us or him) alter ago he has created in his mind, Francois Dillinger (also played by Cera), the suave and amoral badass who isn't afraid to cross the line of decency to get what he wants, in order to do some of the dirty work he must in order to get and keep that object of his desire before she commits to the hunky and most-likely-to-succeed, poetry writing stud she's been seeing.
It might be refreshing for some of his fans to see Cera actually play someone other than an in-name-only variation of the George Michael persona from his first big break in "Arrested Development." However, after witnessing him labor to look like an effective badass to little avail, it's probably best he evolve slowly from the meek geek roles rather than try to portray the polar opposite. But, it's a comedy, after all, and one not terribly concerned with a realistic storyline, so you go with the flow for the comedy's sake, and more often than not, Cera and the rest of the cast deliver up some amusing moments.
However, it's not all a fantasy, as Nick soon finds himself painted into a corner by his own misdeeds, as his parents become more concerned, the authorities are after him, and Sheeni's Bible-thumping parents are completely onto his delinquent behavior. But he has the one thing that has alluded him thus far in his life -- inspiration -- as he finds that, in order to get what he wants, he's going to have to take it.
Although a romantic comedy involving teens, the R rating is earned for a great deal of sexuality, including a shroom-induced hallucination showcasing some animated coital action. Some of the themes involving upsetting your parents, authority, and anyone other than yourself, might not sit well for the more sensitive, particularly in the notion that rampant immorality and mean-spirited anarchy are the way to strive to live one's life. Just remember that it's only a fantasy, and you should have no problem finding enough amusement in Twisp's foibles to justify the twisted life lessons pushed forth.
©2010 Vince Leo