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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Movie Reviews > Youth In Revolt

MOVIE REVIEWS

YOUTH IN REVOLT (2010)

Starring Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Jean Smart, Steve Buscemi, Zach Galifianakis, Ari Graynor, Ray Liotta, Adhir Kalyan, Erik Knudsen, M. Emmet Walsh, Mary Kay Place, Jonathan Bradford Wright, Justin Long, Rooney Mara, Jade Fusco and Fred Willard.

Written by Gustin Nash.

Directed by Miguel Arteta.

Distributed by Dimension Films.  90 minutes.  Rated R.

 

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Youth In Revolt 

It is a rather well-known truth – particularly amongst nice guys like me – that no matter how much women claim they just want to meet a good man, most of the time they will dump him flat for an asshole that treats her like crap. 

Youth in Revolt takes that problem and turns it into a mostly diverting – if sometimes overly broad – comedy of manners. 

They certainly got the lead casting correct.  There are few actors currently working in Hollywood more likely to get the “just friends” speech than Michael Cera.  Cera has made a specialty of playing tongue-tied weak-in-the-presence-of-beauty teen boys in the likes of Arrested Development, Superbad and Juno. 

Cera plays the oddly named Nick Twisp, a sweet and shy Oakland teen who has long ago realized that in a city of over 400,000 people, there is not a single woman who has a shred of interest in him.  This is a problem because all that he thinks of is the possibility of having a girlfriend. 

He finally meets a girl who is somewhat charmed by his virginal sincerity when Nick is staying at the house trailer of the latest of his mother’s long line of boyfriends in Ukiah – which is too far for the carless boy to stay in the hunt. 

The girl Sheeni (Portia Doubleday) is all that Nick is not – confident, worldly and comfortable with her sexuality.  She also seems to understand his offbeat tastes and interests and finds his fumbling attempts to win her over kind of charming.  However, she has been interested in another worldlier guy.  Besides, she doesn’t want to give in to Nick since he will not be around. 

The only way this could work, they decide, is if Nick becomes a trouble-maker and has to leave his boorish mother’s home (played by Jean Smart, of Designing Women and 24) and move in with his closer dad (Steve Buscemi). 

The plan has the added side benefit of perhaps making Nick more intriguing to Sheeni. 

Therefore, he creates an evil alter ego, Francois Dillinger, who is the id to Twisp’s massive super-ego.  Francois sets off on a series of anti-social acts, to the point where it seems that the good boy can’t control the bad boy.  In fact, as things escalate, the audience worries about the kid’s being a bit of a sociopath, all in the name of love.

Cera is very good here – though it is a little hard to take him seriously as the tough guy alter ego with his skinny, muscle-free body, baby face, wispy almost-mustache and white grandpa pants.  Still, he tries hard to be the bad boy – and part of the joke is that such an inherently pleasant person is trying ineffectually to be a rebel – so we will give him a pass.

The film itself suffers from a similar problem.  It is trying politely to be outrageous.  And the more the movie strays into the dark side, the more it loses its way.  However, more often than not, it works pretty well. 

While Youth in Revolt is a perfectly pleasant way to pass an hour and a half, I get the feeling that the makers were trying for so much more.  It seems they wanted to make a generational-defining statement – like Rebel Without a Cause, The Graduate or The Breakfast Club.  On this count, the film comes up way short.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2010 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: January 17, 2010.

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 Copyright ©2010  PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: January 17, 2010.

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