Youth in Revolt

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Bottom Line: Nothing new, but entertaining coming-of-age tale.

“In movies the good guy gets the girl. In real life it’s usually the pr–k.” –Michael Cera as Nick Twisp

Directed by: Miguel Arteta
Starring: Adhir Kalyan, Ari Graynor, Erik Knudsen, Fred Willard, Jean Smart, Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Ray Liotta, Steve Buscemi, Zach Galifianakis

I can’t say I’ve never seen something like YOUTH IN REVOLT before. I’ve seen countless coming-of-age dramas, everything from the timeless classics (THE BREAKFAST CLUB) to the instantly forgettable (THE LAST SONG). There is absolutely nothing about the film that makes it anomalous in any way, shape, or form. There is, however, a wonderfully bittersweet taste that makes this seriocomic moral questioning so watchable.

YOUTH IN REVOLT is the study of character Nick Twisp (Michael Cera). He is a high schooler, wishing he wasn’t still a virgin and could one day meet the girl of his dreams. While vacationing in a trailer park for a week with his parents, he meets Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday), the daughter of two religious freaks, and immediately falls in love with her. After spending some time with her, he learns that she already has a boyfriend and, on top of that, has a fascination with French culture. Nick desperately creates a mental companion named François, who gives him advice on what to do in order to win Sheeni’s heart. It seems most to all of these tactics, however, involve infringing upon the law and put him at risk of being arrested, giving him the decision to make as to whether he would rather go to gaol or be without Sheeni.

What makes this film so interesting may just be how intriguing the main character is. He begins the film by clearly explaining to us how undoubtedly different he is, of course without saying it. Just the fact that he possesses a collection of vinyl records and has a fondness for Frank Sinatra should hint at this. The characterization is also a bit of a mixed bag, though. What feels a bit confusing about this movie is how far over the top his character is pushed. He seems like someone who would be more cerebral, more cautious of his actions, so once he has been established, the distance he goes to earn a relationship with the girl of his dreams seems quite unlike him.

The film has very melancholy bits and moods, but it is just as well a heavy-headed comedy. Nick has an inconsistent outlook on life, set against his consistent sarcasm. It’s funny to hear his witty, intelligent, state-the-obvious-when-no-one-else-notices-it jokes that seem to make him feel better about is life, his frustration, the fact that he cannot get a girlfriend, etc. The humor is additional, but not extraneous.

It’s the themes of YOUTH IN REVOLT that make it enjoyable, not its characters. A great coming-of-age drama would featre both intriguing themes and believable characters, which makes this film a bit uneven. Either way, it’s enjoyable, smart, and certainly worth a watch.

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8 thoughts on “Youth in Revolt

  1. Somebody’s on a Michael Cera kick this week, lol. Is that a coincidence or am I not the only one trying to warm myself up for Arrested Development’s eventual return?

    I’ll probably wind up seeing this one eventually but my viewing time has been a bit limited lately so it might be bumped off of the list by other new releases.

    • It wasn’t intentional that I watched a Michael Cera movie late last night and then almost as soon as I woke up this morning. I’m vising my cousin and our friend at the beach, and we’re having movie nights for the time being. We watched The Grey last night and original were going to stop at that, but then we ended up watching Scott Pilgrim as well. Then we watched Youth in Revolt, a favorite of our friend. I’ve actually never seen Arrested Development, but I like Michael Cera. He’s a fine actor. I’d say of what I’ve seen, Juno and Scott Pilgrim are his best films.

  2. This film promised to feature Zach Galifianakis, but they killed him off early on.

    I saw this before I started my blog, and I don’t plan on returning to review it.

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