Youth in Revolt (2010)
Release Date: January 8th, 2010 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Miguel Arteta Actors: Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Jean Smart, Ray Liotta, Zach Galifianakis, Erik Knudsen
uniquely inspired examination of fledgling love and the extreme actions of troubled youth hides beneath the dressings of a typical teen comedy in “Youth in Revolt.” Thankfully, creative dialogue and a humorously sadistic split personality reveal Miguel Arteta’s original influence on the genre. Michael Cera also perfectly matches the anguished lead character’s persona while proving he can portray more than just the personality he likely has in real life (if only for a few moments). The “Superbad” crowd might not readily accept the graduation of their timid hero, but he’s still there. Everything around him has just gotten a little more mature.
Nerdy, awkward, 16-year-old Nick Twisp (Michael Cera) finds his life hopelessly mired in the disappointments associated with his social shortcomings and the contemptible habits of his divorced parents. In order to evade a group of enraged sailors in his hometown of Oakland (a place filled with women who have no interest in him), Nick’s mother (Jean Smart) and her deadbeat boyfriend (Zach Galifianakis) escape to a trailer park, taking the apathetic youth with them. But what begins as another tedious journey for Nick transforms into the chance of a lifetime when he meets Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday) and instantly falls for the audacious beauty. When he’s unexpectedly forced to move back home, Nick determines that the only way to be reunited with his love is to rebel against authority – and with a little help from his wicked French counterpart Francois, he’ll do just that.
“Since I have no life, I figure I have nothing to lose,” claims Nick unenthusiastically. His best friend Lefty (Erik Knudsen) is the only person more miserable. But when Nick comes across the unexpectedly experienced, oddly mature teenage girl, he’s provided with a reason to live. As if to say that illegal, highly destructive rebellion is okay for minors, “Youth in Revolt” paints a comical, grandly humorous account of angst-ridden teenage mayhem. It’s led by Michael Cera, who is surprisingly entertaining despite the fact that he once again dresses the same, acts the same, and has the same mannerisms, soft voice, haircut, and personality he’s had in every one of his films – until he unveils an alternate persona.
The introduction of an evil doppelganger, played a little too similarly to the regular Cera but with a wicked mustache and continually lit cigarette, is the highlight of the show. Considering the quest is once again about losing virginity, getting the girl, outsmarting authority figures, and eluding responsibility, “Youth in Revolt” rarely involves any gag or activity with any real newness. And yet, as if written specifically for Cera, the dialogue and screenplay are particularly seductive, enticing with bitingly sarcastic poetry and linguistically adept observations. To match the love interest’s uncommon role of domineering temptress and her unusually self-aware, persuasive sexuality, Cera speaks with the wit and clever veracity of a seasoned wordsmith. Topped off with the standard crude sexuality, drug use, language, cameos, inappropriate but daring animated sequences (some reminiscent of “Superbad,” others along the lines of “Celebrity Deathmatch”), and Cera in drag, “Youth in Revolt” is a great start for the year in comedy.
– The Massie Twins