Youth in Revolt Review


My love for Michael Cera was seriously waning going into “Youth in Revolt.” I take pride in being one of the few people who watched “Arrested Development” from the beginning. He was brilliant in it, as he was in “Superbad.” I don’t care much for “Juno,” but I thought he was good enough in it. I liked “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” well enough, but at that point, I was starting to get sick of his stagnant lovable loser routine. I haven’t bothered with any of his stuff since then, but I thought “Youth in Revolt” might be something different, a chance to show some range. Unfortunately, I was wrong. This is a pointless motion picture featuring two Cera performances; one is his usual shtick and the other a limp parody of it.

Nick Twisp (Cera) is a 16-year-old virgin. He lives with his deadbeat mother (Jean Smart) and her bum of a boyfriend (Zach Galifianakis). He constantly is thinking about sex and girls, but doesn’t have the looks, personality, or confidence to get a girlfriend. When he ends up in a trailer park with his family (because Jerry is trying to escape some angry sailors), he meets Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday), and he immediately falls madly in love with her. She likes Nick, but not in an obsessive, creepy way like he does. Still, she doesn’t want him to leave, so on the eve of his departure, they hatch a plan to bring him back to the trailer park. He must behave so badly that he gets kicked out of the house and has to live with his father near Sheeni’s trailer park. So he develops an alter ego, Francois (Cera), to help him be bad and reunite him with his love.

It’s as silly as it sounds, basically an excuse for Cera to make fun of persona. But he doesn’t do a very good job. Francois doesn’t pop up too much. When he does, it’s off-putting and happens for arbitrary reasons. And none of it is very funny. I half-heartedly chuckled a few times, but that’s about it. Without the laughs, I can’t really see any point to “Youth in Revolt.”

Besides Cera, the only other performer mentioning is Portia Doubleday as Sheeni. Doubleday, in her debut performance, is what makes this movie watchable (not good, but watchable). She’s easily the best thing about the film. Her character is interesting. She says whatever she is thinking (even calling out Nick for getting an erection). She loves obscure movies and music and especially France. She’s easily the best thing about the film.

Working with a juvenile screenplay, director Miguel Artera makes things worse by employing irritating quirks. He uses claymation in one scene, partial animation in another. I’ll never understand why directors insist on doing this (the only thing I can think of is that they don’t have confidence in their own material or abilities), but it’s an annoying trend. And it pops up a lot in “Youth in Revolt.”

This is just a pointless endeavor. It’s not funny; it’s not insightful; and it doesn’t give its star the chance he really needs to step out and try something new. It’s the first film of 2010 that I saw. I hope the rest of the year is an improvement.

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